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Full text of "Struggling upward : a brief story of the upward struggles of Rev. and Mrs. J.D. Hocutt and their fourteen children of Burgaw, North Carolina, with special emphasis upon the record of the family in Christian education"

Cfie JU&rarp 

of tyt 

Ontoersitp of jQortft Carolina 




Collection of i|5ortfi Catoluuana 
<&W booh toag presented 

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This book must not 
be taken from the 
Library building. 



Form No. 471 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/strugglingupwardOOhocu 



STRUGGLING 



UPWARD 




H. M. HOCUTT 



STRUGGLING UPWARD 



A Brief Story of the Upward Strug- 
gles of Rev. and Mrs. J. D. Hocutt 
and their Fourteen Children of Bur- 
gaw, North Carolina, with Special 
Emphasis upon the Record of the 
Family in Christian Education. 



By 

H. M. Hocutt 

Missionary in the Buncombe 
Baptist Association, Ashe 
ville, North Carolina 



(If other copies of ihis book are desired, contact the author at 
112 Belmont Avenue, Asheville, N. C.) 



This is the best picture available of Papa. It was taken in the back 
yard at the home just a few years before his death in 1932. 



2 




A picture of Mama, Mrs. J. D. Hocutt, taken about a year be- 
fore her death on May 26, 1948. 

3 



CONTENTS 



Chapter Page 

A Bit of History 6 

The Urge 7 

The Closed Door 9 

A Light Kindled in the Dark 12 

Early Struggles 14 

Poor Health 18 

A Public Servant 21 

A Tiller of the Soil 24 

In the Front Ranks 28 

The Hand-Me- Downs 31 

Let Us Forget 34 

The Second Table 37 

Down at the Beach 39 

Where Two Families Met 43 

A Light on the Hill 48 

A Father and Mother in Israel 52 

A Fixed Purpose 54 

Casting Forth the Mantle 57 

Launching Out 60 

All Hands on the Oars 62 

After-Class Chores 65 

Unselfish Help 66 

After Years of Struggle 70 

Side by Side 73 

Weddings and Families of the Children 76 



4 



INTRODUCTION 

le ollowing pages are written in an effort to relate 
in i .pie way some of the interesting things about two 
humble and consecrated servants of the Lord who dared 
to attempt in the education of their children what to many 
people would have been the impossible. We refer affec- 
tionately to Papa and Mama, who were known to their 
many friends, apart from the members of their family, as 
Reverend and Mrs. J. D. Hocutt of Burgaw, North Caro- 
lina. 

Papa and Mama each completed about the fifth grade 
in school, but they toiled and sacrificed for more than a 
quarter of a century to provide a high school and college 
education for their children. When the task was com- 
pleted, eight daughters and two sons had graduated from 
Meredith and Wake Forest Colleges in North Carolina, 
and two sons had graduated from Southern Baptist Semi- 
naries. Each of the other four sons spent a year or more 
in one of the Baptist Schools in North Carolina, and one 
of the four completed his high school work. The four- 
teen children in the family spent a total of seventy-five 
years in the Baptist Schools of North Carolina, with the 
years spent in the Southern Baptist Seminaries included. 

There were few if any times when Papa and Mama 
had the ready cash with which to pay all their bills; yet, 
by the providence of God, by their determination and 
ingenuity, and by their hard work and the co-operation 
of all members of the family, about $28,000 was spent 
for high school, college, and seminary work away from 
home. We believe this is no little accomplishment for a 
farmer and his companion who did much of their farm- 
ing on rented land. 

We have prepared this simple story with the hope and 
prayer that those who read it may catch the spirit of the 
two lives pictured herein. If it proves to be an encour- 
agement that helps others to keep "Struggling Upward," 
we will feel that our writing has not been in vain. 

H. M. HOCUTT 

Asheville, N. C. 
June 5, 1951 



5 



A BIT OF HISTORY 



As a matter of interest, we give here a brief history 
of the Hocutt Family. The best information available 
traces the name as far back as 1453 to a location near 
Harrogate, England. A study of records at the Histori- 
cal Commission in Raleigh from Chowan and Albemarle 
Counties in North Carolina in 1723 and 1729 gives the 
names of William and Edward Hocot. Note the way the 
name was spelled. No further record has been found 
of William, but a will of Edward Hocot dated in Beau- 
ford County in 1749-1750 gives his wife's name as 
Martha and his sons' names as William, Nathaniel, and 
Edward. 

The will of William Hocot in Johnston County in 
1795 gives the names of his children as William Brown, 
Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary Millie. William Brown (Ho- 
cut) married Aley Oneil on April 5, 1795, and then he 
married Creacy Oneil on February 24, 1806. At his 
death he left the following orphan children: Hinson, 
Willey, Lucretia, Sally, Sarah, and Zachariah. A large 
number of descendants of this branch of the family may 
be found in sections of Eastern North Carolina. 

The lineage of the particular family given in this 
booklet goes back to Edward and Martha Hocot in 1749- 
1750 and to their son Edward, brother of William and 
Nathaniel. The will of the younger Edward just men- 
tioned appears in "Olds Abstract for North Carolina 
Wills from 1760 to about 1800." The names of his 
children were William, Edward, Richard, Benjamin, Hen- 
ry, and John. His son Benjamin Hocutt (the first time 
the name is found spelled as given here) married Nancy 
Holoman in Johnston County on September 26, 1809. 
His will dated in Johnston County in 1858 gives his 
wife's name as Sintha (a second marriage) and names 
his children as Nancy, William, Rilda, Laney, Atlas, 
James, Caswell, Harriet, Bryan, and Lemuel. Lemuel 
Hocutt married Lucy Oliver Ligon of Johnston County on 
January 1 1, 1841, and their children were Nancy, James 
Allison, William Bryant, John Caswell, Augustus, Sarah, 
Ennis, Hilliard M., Jefferson Davis, and Ella Mae. The 
Jefferson Davis Hocutt just mentioned is the Jeff. D. 
Hocutt of the story found in this booklet. 



6 



THE URGE 

During the periods of the history of mankind, when 
the light of civilization seemed to be burning low, the 
Master, who sees beyond the darkness, has cradled in 
infancy many leaders of men who have helped to blaze 
the path that points the way for the upward march of 
man. If one will pause for a moment to meditate upon 
the lives of some of the greatest men he has known or 
about whom he has read, he will observe that many of 
them in our country were born in the latter half of the 
nineteenth century. They spent their early youth in an 
environment that was influenced greatly by the Civil 
War. We believe it was providential that in the hearts 
of these men was planted an urge to help build a better 
world. They saw clearly the need for a better world. In 
1861, one was born under humble circumstances who 
was destined to take his place among men, one who 
would make his contribution along with others toward the 
betterment of mankind. When he was born he was 
given the name of Jefferson Davis (Hocutt) after the 
President of the Confederacy. 

This one about whom these lines are written did not 
come to be known as a national leader. His name will 
not be found in any hall of fame, and he was not listed 
in Who's Who in America. He was an humble man 
who lived an humble life, unknown by many who are 
called great. He entered no institution of learning from 
which he could receive a diploma or degree of honor. To 
begin with, his sphere of opportunity was limited. He 
took his place on a small farm in Pender County in East- 
ern North Carolina, and there he lingered as a faithful 
tiller of the soil through his threescore years and ten. 
Yes, there he remained, and there he labored and toiled 
with his devoted companion to rear and to provide for 
his family; but while this man labored with his hands 
from daylight until dusk, and while he lingered close at 
home in his community, there was something about him 
surging in his heart and mind that lifted him out of his 
limited surroundings and circumstances and made him to 



7 



live with the lofty, the noble, and the great. It was an 
inner urge that would not let him be satisfied just to live. 
He was willing to be a tiller of the soil. To him that 
was an honorable task. He was not restless and dissatis- 
fied, but rather the opposite was true. About him was a 
sense of the Master's presence as he planted the seed and 
reaped the harvest. He had a feeling that he was in 
partnership with God. For him, life on the farm was 
something more than the amount of his harvest or the 
size of his bank account. His was a sacred task. In him 
there was an urge that lifted him above life's material 
things. Above all there was a deep, abiding longing 
within him that he might live a life of the greatest use- 
fulness possible and that the world might be made better 
because he had lived in it. It was not what he might receive 
from his fellowmen that meant most to him, but rather it 
was what he might give to his generation that was his 
crowning glory. 

During the winters of his youth, before the responsi- 
bilities of life fell too heavily upon him, he was able to 
finish about the fourth grade in school, and that was the 
limit of his academic training; but it was not the finish 
of his schooling, not this man. Throughout the days of 
his life he was a student. Being a Baptist, and an ardent 
one, he saw to it that the very best literature provided by 
his denomination came to his home regularly, and he 
found time during his busy life to read those periodicals 
and to keep himself informed about what Baptists and 
other denominations were doing. He was a reader of 
books, but he wanted none but the best for himself and 
his family. More than once his sons and daughters, 
fresh from college, were stumped by his questions. At 
his death he left a library of no mean size to be divided 
between his two preacher sons. 

Not in books and periodicals alone did he find that 
for which his hungry, alert mind longed. He was a lover 
of men, and he sought the company and fellowship of 
the greatest men who came in reach of his community. 



8 



To them his home ever extended a most cordial welcome. 
Preachers, college presidents, denominational leaders, and 
missionaries frequented his home and ate from his table. 
He was especially fond of such men as Dr. R. T. Vann, 
the "Wingless Eagle of North Carolina Baptists," and 
Rev. David Wells Herring, a boyhood friend who was 
a missionary to China. His pastor was always a close 
friend and brother. He loved the company of these men; 
and while he was an humble farmer, the greatness of his 
soul made him perfectly at home among the great and 
the noble. To him, these were men after whom he could 
pattern his life and after whom he would have his chil- 
dren to pattern theirs. 

This constant longing for the best that life had to 
give for himself and for all members of his family con- 
stituted an inner urge that followed him throughout the 
days of his life. 

THE CLOSED DOOR 

Throughout his life, Papa had a deep interest in mis- 
sions. Of all his friends, Rev. David Wells Herring, who 
went as a missionary to China from a neighboring com- 
munity, was one of his closest. One of Mr. Herring's 
sons died while quite young, and he was such a fine 
little fellow that his father wrote a little book about him 
that was entitled The Manly Boy. Papa received one of 
those books as a gift from his close friend, and the story 
of the fine little lad touched his heart. Soon after that 
book was received, the writer of these lines made his ap- 
pearance as the fifth son in the family and was given the 
name of Manly. 

In his library that was divided between his two preacher 
sons after his death were many books of missionary in- 
terest, among which was the story of David Livingstone. 
Of all his books, other than the "Book of Books," this 
one about Livingstone showed the most use. The backs 
were all but gone from it, and many of its pages were 
loose. More than once the name of Livingstone was used 



9 



in conversations in the family circle. Papa was familiar 
with the events of this great missionary's life, and this 
interest helps to explain why his first son was named 
David. 

But to read the story of missionaries and to know per- 
sonally those who gave , their lives to this great work did 
not satisfy the longing in Papa's heart. There was a 
feeling that he never got away from that he too must do 
something to carry the news of the gospel to others; thus 
early in life he felt the call to go as a missionary to 
Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa. This feeling 
of a call was so clear that time after time late in life he 
referred to it, and he wished so much that he might have 
gone, but circumstances made it necessary for him to so 
plan his life that this missionary interest might be used by 
the Master in other ways. 

Papa was the youngest son in a family of ten children. 
He had a twin sister who died in infancy. Being the 
youngest son, he was faced with the necessity of providing 
adequate care for his parents in their old age. He was 
devoted to them, and not once would he think of leaving 
home. That was out of the question. He wanted an 
education as an older brother, John, was getting at Wake 
Forest in preparation for the ministry, but with him, the 
completion of the fourth grade was the limit. To go on 
to school and from there to the mission field was a desire 
and a longing that lingered in the depth of his heart. It 
was the one thing above all others that he wanted to do, 
but with him, do what he might, he found a "Closed 
Door." 

Had God made a mistake in placing this call into the 
heart of a lad when to carry out the demands of the call 
was impossible from every human viewpoint? Was Papa 
mistaken about the call that he felt? Is it possible that 
the feeling he had was only a thrill for adventure that 
was stirred by the reading of the life of David Livingstone? 
These questions come into our minds, and with the limit 
upon our understanding of the workings of the Master, 
we confess that we are not certain of all the answers to 



10 



all these questions; however, we are perfectly confident 
that the Master was working in His own way to bring 
about His will; thus we make bold to suggest that judg- 
ment be withheld at least until all the pages of this story 
have been read. 

The answer to these questions was not as easy and 
logical to Papa as the above lines seem to indicate. He 
was entirely conscious of all the circumstances involved. 
He was a man who faced the problems of life as they 
came day by day in a practical, common-sense way. He 
knew all too well the situation before him, but at the 
same time he knew the feelings of his heart. It was not 
a vision in the sky or a strange voice that convinced him 
on the spur of the moment of his call. It was rather an 
inner feeling prompted by a "still small voice," a voice 
familiar to him, that put upon his heart the need of those 
in heathen darkness. It was a call that lingered into 
the nights, a call that stood out over all the seemingly im- 
possible difficulties; thus to answer it with logic or to 
dismiss it as impossible was out of the question. To him 
the call had meaning, and he knew that in time the mean- 
ing would be clear. 

But what must he do? To go was impossible, but to 
get away from the call was just as impossible, or even 
more so, and he was the last man who would try to solve 
the problem that way. Thus what must he do? To him 
the answer was clear, and about it he did not worry. He 
was aware of the "Closed Door," but he knew One who 
could open doors, and with that faith the problem was 
solved. He would give himself to study, to prayer, and 
to a life of service and not worry about what he could not 
do. 

This attitude led him to study geography. None of his 
children knew as much about the countries of the world 
when they received their college diplomas as he knew. 
He studied world conditions. He was interested in people 
and their customs. Mission magazines caught his eyes. 
He would read them and leave them handy for his chil- 
dren to read. In that way he would answer the call he 



11 



felt by keeping his mind and heart filled constantly with 
every available item of interest about our missionary pro- 
gram. Then he would do his part by teaching and by 
giving to make his church a truly missionary church. 
Being unable to do the one thing his heart longed 
for, he gave himself to do with all his might what 
his hands found to do, and God let him live to see the 
"Closed Door" open and to see Rosa, his oldest daughter, 
enter that door. She and her husband, Rev. J. C. Powell, 
sailed for Nigeria, Africa, as missionaries on January 11, 
1920. Later Papa was heard to say that the day they left 
home for Africa was the happiest day of his life. 




This is a picture of Rosa and Carlyle Powell and their daughter 
Mary Hester Powell. Rosa is the oldest of the children in the Ho- 
cutt Family. She and Carlyle sailed for Nigeria, West Africa, as 
Baptist Missionaries on January 11, 1920. Mary Hester was born 
in Africa. After completing her college work and taking training as 
a nurse, she joined her parents as a Missionary in Africa. She is at 
the Baptist Hospital in Ogbomoso, and Rosa and Carl are at Oyo. 

A LIGHT KINDLED IN THE DARK 
After the death of grandfather Lemuel Hocutt in 1885, 
Papa and one or two of his sisters, who had not married, 
remained at home running the farm and caring for grand- 
mother Lucy Legion Hocutt until her death on December 
21, 1890. That day, the day of her death, was an event- 



12 



fill day in more ways than one. She had been ill for 
some months, and it was evident that her illness was 
serious and that she could not live very long. She was 
most appreciative of what her children had done for her, 
and to the very end she was interested in their welfare and 
future happiness. The fact that Papa had remained at 
home and had not married and had given her every at- 
tention possible during her last days made her all the 
more appreciative of him. Within those last months, he 
had won the affection of Hester Katherine Murray, daugh- 
ter of George and Amanda Murray of the "Murray Town", 
some miles north and east of Burgaw, who at that time 
was living near Rocky Point with her sister Eliza who had 
married Hilliard M. Hocutt, one of Papa's brothers. The 
date of their wedding had been set for Wednesday, De- 
cember 24; but grandmother, realizing that the end was 
drawing near, expressed a wish that she might see them 
married before her death. She said that she could die 
happy if she knew they were married. Papa was very 
attentive to his mother, and he was anxious to comply 
with her every request if possible. That being true, on 
Sunday morning, December 21, 1890, he left to go for his 
chosen bride. He found her without all things in readi- 
ness for the wedding day, but she was willing to join him 
without waiting longer, and off the two lovers went to 
have their lives united in matrimony. 

When the word had been spoken before Tom J. Arm- 
strong, Justice of the Peace at Rocky Point, after it was 
evident that no preacher could be found, there was neither 
a reception nor a honeymoon trip; but instead, traveling 
by horse and buggy, the newly-wedded couple made their 
way to the home where a mother was lingering between 
life and death. They knew that time was an important 
element if the expressed wish of the sick one might be 
realized. With anxious hearts, the lovers arrived to find 
that she had slipped away; and upon checking on the 
time, it was thought that the end had come at about 
the same moment they stood before the marriage altar. 



13 



For these two, the experiences of this eventful day 
were mingled with joy and sorrow. A dear one called 
by the name of Mother had slipped away. For any ap- 
preciative child, memories of childhood days crowd the 
mind and heart when the tender hand of Mother is stilled 
in death. The joys of wedding bells do not crowd out 
the emotions experienced on such a day. Clouds of dark- 
ness gather, and life's shocking experiences become a cold 
reality. It is not easy to give up one's dearest friend, and 
that is what happned to Papa. But in that hour when 
one was called away } another was welcomed into his life 
and into his home. When these two were wed in this 
hour of darkness, a light was kindled, the rays of which 
are still shining. A light was kindled because the two 
who were wed were light-bearers. It is not so with all 
weddings, but with this one, two lives were united for 
life, and the two became one in purpose, in plan, and in 
sacrifice; and through their varied experiences of life, 
they walked side by side as one through the years in 
"The Light Kindled in the Dark." 

EARLY STRUGGLES 

An attempt to describe the early struggles of Papa and 
Mama is like trying to record an event that one knows 
little about. The best one can do is to retell some of 
the things that along through the years were revealed by 
them. Not all the things that occurred were known by 
members of the family because many of the events were 
so sacred to them and so peculiar to their interests that 
an attempt to relate them would be like treading upon 
sacred ground. To them there was no thought that what 
they were doing would ever be recorded. They were not 
living and working for that purpose. With a sense of 
divine leadership, they were just doing what they could 
to follow the fixed purpose and plan for their lives. 

Among the things that entered into their early strug- 
gles was the need of more land for cultivation. The home 
place that came to them was very small, and enough could 
not be produced on it to provide for a family. This was a 
matter of no little concern bcause there was so little with 



14 



which to pay for more land that might be obtained. That 
being true, there was only one thing to do, and that was 
to venture cautiously little by little and then to make the 
necessary sacrifice to pay for such land as they would dare 
to buy. This they did, and the personal sacrifices they 
made were far greater than anything that may be de- 
scribed herein; however, with all they could do, they 
were unable to secure all the land needed, and until the 
end of his days, Papa did much of his farming on rented 
land. 




This picture of the home place was taken early in July, 1951. In for- 
mer years a large oak tree stood just back of the house on the right of this 
picture. It was in the center of the yard and was a shade to a large part 
of the yard. Alma, one of the sisters, and her husband Fulton Blanchard 
live there now with their daughter Mary Emma. 

Another thing that entered into their early struggles 
was the need for a larger and better house in which to 
live. The dwelling on the home place was very small and 
was in need of repairs. The kitchen, a separate room 
built of logs some distance from the rest of the house, 
had about served its day. This need for a larger and 
better place to live was an urgent necessity, but it took 



15 



time, hard work, and sacrifice to get it. Papa hauled on a 
wagon all the lumber for the new house from a sawmill 
near Burgaw, some five or six miles away. A neighbor 
helped in fixing the pillars and chimney, but Papa did 
much of the rest of the work. He planed by hand the 
lumber that was used for weather-boarding. Members of 
the family who were old enough to drive nails helped in 
putting on the lathes for plastering, and most of that was 
done on rainy days when work could not be done on the 
farm. 

Central in the cause for struggle and toil was the fact 
of a growing family. There were children to be pro- 
vided for, and the number continued to increase until 
there were fifteen, one of whom died in infancy, leaving 
fourteen, eight girls and six boys ; to grow to manhood 
and womanhood. To provide food, clothing, and other 
necessities for this group was no little task. It required 
long hours of work six days to the week during every 
month of the year. 

To meet this need there had to be co-operation, and 
every minute of time had to be utilized. It was not 
enough to raise just the ordinary crops. Special means of 
income had to be planned. This necessity led Papa to 
start making sausage during the winter months for sale 
on the Wilmington market, some eighteen miles away. 
Then by the time the sausage season was over a crop of 
asparagus was ready for market. Along with this, in 
the early years there were strawberries to be picked and 
shipped. These extra things just had to be done to meet the 
demands of a large family. 

But all the story was not just the earning of an income 
with which to buy the necessary things. There had to 
be careful planning at home to make things go as far as 
possible and to save where it could be done, and at this 
Mama was a genius. She learned to patch and then to 
patch some more to make clothes last a week or two 
longer. She could sew and she taught her daughters to 
sew in order to help make their clothes. In the purchase 
of cloth, enough would be bought at times to make sev- 



16 



eral dresses from the same piece in order to save in the 
cost and to make it go farther. Then there was no laun- 
dry and no washing machine. Clothes had to be cleaned 
on the washboard, and only those who have done it know 
how hard this type of work is. This was done at home by 
Mama with none too much outside help, and that was 
no little task where there were so many children to get 
clothes dirty. 

Along with the things already mentioned, there were 
other things that had to be crowded in somewhere. It 
took shoes and plenty of them for the feet of fourteen 
children, and those shoes were constantly in need of re- 
pairs. At this task Papa was efficient. To see him put 
soles on shoes, one would think he was an experienced 
cobbler, and that was not far from true. Chairs and other 
bits of furniture had to be repaired, and this also would 
fall to Papa's hands. 

Papa tried to do ail he could to make the housework as 
easy as possible for Mama. One day a sewing machine 
salesman came to our home, and Papa bought a new 
"White" machine for a total price of fifty-five dollars. 
He was allowed twenty dollars for an old machine that 
he traded in for the new one, which left a balance of 
thirty-five dollars to be paid. Some weeks later it was 
discovered that the actual price of the new machine was 
thirty-five dollars. The salesman was a smooth-talking 
fellow who was friendly and joked with the children 
present, and he went away richer by twenty dollars. That 
loss of twenty dollars to Papa and Mama represented many 
long hours of hard work. 

With Papa's help, David, the oldest son, fixed a defi^ 
nition of a baby as a "Troublesome Pleasure" in an 
advertising contest. For this definition he was given 
credit of seventy-five dollars on the price of a new piano, 
which left a total of two hundred and seventy-five dollars 
for Papa to pay. That explains how a piano was pur- 
chased. 



17 



The struggles that came through the years called for 
thinking and planning together, and that is what Papa 
and Mama did. Bill Armstrong, a Negro man who was 
a faithful helper, got much fun out of trying to tell how 
Papa would say so often when facing a problem, "O Katie, 
my dear wife, please help me to think." Throughout 
their years together they looked to each other for help in 
the solution of every problem. As is evident in this 
story, Papa did his full part in all things, but it is equally 
true that in Mama he had a true helpmate. She did help 
him to think, and she helped him to carry every load. In 
every struggle she was standing by his side. The dark 
hours were made lighter and the heavy burdens were 
more easily borne because of the help and encouragement 
he received from Mama. No man ever had a nobler or 
truer companion. As one, they shared the struggles and 
sacrifices that came to be a real part of all their years 
together. 

POOR HEALTH 

The energy that served as a constant urge for Papa 
through his threescore years and ten did not find its source 
in a strong and healthy body, but instead it came from 
an alert mind and impelling spirit that would not let him 
find comfortable idlenesess behind the weakness of the 
flesh. As will be seen in these lines, he had few days 
in which he enjoyed the best of health, but the moti- 
vating power of his life made him the victor and not the 
victim of this physical handicap. What his real trouble 
was remained somewhat of a mystery. If the doctors 
ever knew all that was wrong, they did not tell him. 
Some of his chronic troubles were intense nervousness, 
indigestion, rheumatism, and some form of heart trouble. 

In the early years after his marriage, so severe was 
his nervous condition that in the spring of the year, when 
the land had been prepared for the planting of corn, he 
would lead a mule up and down the rows behind him as 
he dropped the seed corn by hand and covered it by push- 
ing dirt over it with his foot. His condition was so in- 
tense that he dared not get too far away alone, and the 



18 



mule with him gave him a sense of security and self- 
confidence that enabled him to go on with his work. 

In later years, when some of us would be plowing in 
the field where he and others were working with the 
hoe, he would have those of us who were plowing to so 
scatter ourselves in the field that some of us would be 
near him with a mule as much of the time as possible. 
At times when we would go to the field for work when 
no plowing was to be done, he would have one of us to 
take a mule along and tie it under the shade of a tree 
close by where we were working to give him the sense of 
security that his nervous condition demanded. 

Different ones of us have heard Mama say many times 
that during the early days after their marriage, when he 
would leave home for the field or for the market, she 
was not sure whether he would return dead or alive. Her 
feeling about his condition was so uncertain that at all 
times she kept some clean sheets in a certain drawer where 
they could be had immediately in the event of his death. 

These lines are written, not to magnify Papa's illness, 
but rather to call attention to some of the difficulties 
under which he worked that served as a constant test of 
his zeal and determination. Many a man with less zeal 
would have surrendered under less difficulties and become 
an object of charity, but no such thought ever entered 
the mind of the one about whom these lines are penned. 
No one ever caught him sitting on the stool of do-nothing 
and talking about his aches and pains. He was a busy, 
alert man. There was work for him to do all the time, 
and plenty of it. Those who knew him marveled at the 
amount of hard work he did and the amount he got 
others to do. He did more real hard work than many 
who were blessed with stronger bodies, and he put to 
shame many who started life under more favorable cir- 
cumstances. 

There is another side to this picture. By the side of 
this man walked a woman who had promised to stand 
by him in sickness and in health, and this she did until 
he slipped away. Her task was all the harder because of 



19 



his condition. Think of her as a mother with small children 
who looked to her for the tender care that is due every 
child. With them her hands were full, but they were not 
her only care. She has never revealed the full depth of 
the anixety she bore when a sick husband would go from 
her sight to places of work, and she tried not to let him 
know how anxious she was when his return was delayed 
beyond the expected hour. With a willing and a tender 
hand, she went about her work and did all she could to 
relieve him of extra duties and responsibilities. More 
than once, of necessity, she was called upon to do the 
unusual thing. 




A picture of "Grandma," Mrs. Amanda Murray, 
Mama's mother. She spent her last years in our home. 



20 



In the sausage season during the winter months, she 
took her place for two days each week in helping to kill 
the hogs and to make sausage, liver pudding, etc. She 
helped to clean the chitterlings and to get them ready 
for the market. For long hours she stood in the smoke 
by the pot where the lard or the liver pudding was cooking. 
Many times she worked from the early morning until the 
midnight hour when there was not sufficient help or when 
for some reason the work did not move along as was 
expected. In no event did she stop until she saw that 
all things were finished and in order. It would have 
been most difficult, if not impossible, to do this work 
without her help. She was one person who could give 
just the help that Papa stood in need of. She was a true 
helpmate. 

At this point, it is fitting to say that Mama's weight 
of responsibility was made heavier by the attention and 
care demanded by her mother, Mrs. Amanda Murray, 
who made her home with us for many years. To all of 
us, "Grandma," as we called her, was as much a member 
of the family as any of us. During her last years, her 
health was poor, and faithfully Mama responded to the 
many calls to see that all her many needs were met. 

A PUBLIC SERVANT 

Papa's life was one of varied activities. He was looked 
upon by people in different walks of life as one who was 
a leader in his community and one who was interested 
in all the things that went to make for a better commu- 
nity. The theme of these chapters magnifies his interests 
in education, but that interest would not be completely 
described without some statement about his service as a 
school committeeman. He was one of the three men who 
were charged with the responsibility of selecting teachers 
and of looking after all the business matters pertaining to 
the little school that will be described in a later chapter 
This was no little or light matter. To him it was a seriou. 
responsibility. He was concerned about those who would 



21 



teach his children and all other children who attended 
the school, and he considered it his sacred duty to give 
his time in seeing to it that the needs of the school were 
provided for. 

A second matter of community interest that claimed 
his attention was the public road system of the county. 
In the early life of this writer, so far as he can recall, 
there was not a foot of paved road in all of Pender 
County. Most of the roads were narrow and ungraded, 
and many of the smaller streams had no bridges across 
them. During the winter months the ruts were cut deep 
by the wheels of the wagons and buggies that constituted 
the means of travel and of hauling produce. The care of 
these roads was in the hands of a committee with limited 
funds provided by the county. This was a work that 
called for people of public interest, and in this capacity 
Papa was asked to serve. He was interested in roads 
because he used them regularly, and he knew they were 
essential to the community and county. He was among 
those who took an interest in improving the road system 
even if it did call for higher taxes. He agreed with those 
who said that good roads cost less than bad ones. This 
was especially true with the coming of automobiles. 

When the matter of whether the people would let their 
stock run free in the woods or would build fences and 
confine them came to be a serious issue in the country, 
some politically-minded people, who were concerned about 
this matter, came to Papa and asked him if he would 
run for the state legislature and introduce legislation to 
decide this important issue. The law passed in a previous 
session of the legislature favoring the free range of stock 
was not satisfactory to many people in the county, and 
they wanted a man who favored the confining of stock 
who could be elected to the legislature; thus they came 
to Papa and asked him to become a candidate. This 
was something new under the sun for him. He was 
interested in politics, as all good citizens should be, but 
he had no desire to run for a public office; however, when 
his fellow citizens came to him and made known to him 
their desires and requested that he announce himself as 



22 



a candidate for election as a representative to the legis- 
lature, he considered it his duty to serve his fellowmen 
in this way, and he offered to serve subject to the will of 
the people. After this announcement was made, he won- 
dered how active he should be in seeking his election, but 
it did not take him long to reach a decision in the matter. 
Early in the campaign, he told one man that he would 
appreciate his voting for him in the election, and the 
answer that was given cooled Papa's political fervor. After 
that one experience, he decided that so far as he was con- 
cerned he would request no one else to vote for him. If 
the people wanted him in the legislature, it was up to 
them to elect him, and with that thought in mind he left 
the campaign in their hands. The people knew him, and 
they could decide whether or not they wanted him to go 
to the legislature, and they did decide. When the votes 
were counted, he was their choice, and this expression of 
confidence in him by the citizens of his county touched 
his heart. He was appreciative of the votes cast for him, 
and he considered his election a sacred trust. He must 
represent the people in an important assembly of the land, 
and when the state legislature opened in Raleigh early 
in January, 1919, he was on hand to take his place with 
representatives from the other counties in the law-making 
body of the state. His service in this capacity was of 
such nature that when time came to elect a representative 
again he was approached on the matter by a number of 
his fellow citizens, but since there was no special contro- 
versial issue involved, he declined the request and left this 
place open for others to seek. 

There were other ways in which he was called upon 
to serve. The people knew that they could depend upon 
him to be honest and fair in all matters, and they called 
upon him for varied duties. After the death of a close 
neighbor, a large plantation was to be divided among 
the several children, and Papa was one of a committee 
of three who served in this capacity. When the time came 



23 



that a revaluation of the land for taxation was required, 
he was called upon to serve with others in seeking to 
determine a just valuation of property. 

These lines describing Papa as a public servant would 
be incomplete without a brief discussion of the calls that 
came to him to conduct funerals and to perform marriage 
ceremonies. He was the only ordained minister in our 
immediate community, and many requests came to him to 
go to homes of the bereaved to bring comfort and to 
speak the last words over departed loved ones. Many 
such calls came because of the esteem in which he was 
held by those who were bereaved. 

When it came to the matter of weddings, many in- 
teresting things happened. On one occasion a couple 
came in the middle of the night, and members of the 
family were called from their sleep to witness the cere- 
mony, but no word was said until he was convinced that 
they were not a run-away couple. On another occasion, 
he was in the middle of the ceremony when suddenly he 
forgot what came next, and after stammering for a mo- 
ment trying to continue, he stopped the wedding and 
excused himself until he could go into another room and 
get the ceremony straight in his mind. One day a Negro 
couple came seeking matrimonial bliss. After the knot 
was tied, the Negro man took Papa off to himself clear 
out of sight of those who witnessed the wedding and 
asked him how much he owed him. Papa was ready 
for some fun, as was often the case, and he told the man 
that there was no definite charge and that he could pay 
him what he thought his bride was worth. The poor 
fellow pulled out twenty-seven cents and gave them to 
Papa. 

A TILLER OF THE SOIL 

Perhaps it was providential that Papa was a tiller of 
the soil. What finer place could a couple find to live and 
to rear their children than out in God's open country? 



24 



Let no one be misled, however, in thinking that a child 
is sure to sprout wings if it is reared in the country. 
That does not happen. At least it did not happen with 
the "Hocutt Clann." Nevertheless, it was good for us that 
we spent our early days on the farm where there were 
few places of amusement to be found and plenty of work 
awaiting our hands. It was there that many of life's im- 
portant lessons were learned and many of life's habits 
were formed. 

In thinking about the farm and the advantages of a 
farm life, one is immediately impressed with the fact 
that this is a work with which the average man of all 
ages is familiar. It is a work of honest toil by which the 
lowly, the humble, or the great may earn a livelihood; 
thus the man on the farm is a man among men engaged 
in life's common task of making a living for himself and 
for his family. With some people it is drudgery; with 
others it is a happy privilege; but with all it is a field 
of honest labor. Many of earth's noble men have been 
among those who have worked with the soil. For in- 
stance, the Psalmist was a shepherd lad and Abraham 
Lincoln was a splitter of rails. What made them differ- 
ent from those about them? It was not the farm on which 
each lived, and it was not the type of crop each farm pro- 
duced. It was just that something that is related to man's 
inner self that makes him great. These and many others 
have had that trait of greatness while they lived and 
labored among the common folk. It was here that Papa 
wok his place. He was a farmer. That within itself did 
not make of him a great man, and it did not keep him from 
being great. Instead, it gave him an opportunity to 
stand on level ground with other men, and the height to 
which his shoulders reached was the measure of the man 
that he was. 

As a farmer he was a hard worker. There were no 
idle days with him and with the members of his family. 
He and Mama were the first to arise in the early morn- 
ing, and when they had gotten out of bed, his first im- 
pulse was to call his boys. Those who heard those early- 



25 



morning calls will never forget how his voice rang up 
the stairs to the little room in which they slept, and his 
voice did not give an uncertain sound. It was the call 
of a father who was ready to go himself. He and Mama 
believed in the teaching of the Bible where it says, "Six 
days shalt thou labor." Other boys in the community 
could find the time for a Saturday afternoon swim in the 
creek, but it was a rare treat when we had the privilege 
of joining them. Papa did not object to our going for a 
swim. He went with us a few times, but most of the 
time there was work to be done until the late afternoon 
on the sixth day, and even then many things went undone. 

One of the things that showed Papa's ability as a 
farmer was the variety of crops he raised. He never 
stopped looking for new ways to make his farm more 
productive. No member of the family will ever forget 
the acre or so of butterbeans that he planted each year. 
Early in the summer a six-foot pole had to be cut and 
stuck deep in the ground at each hill of beans for the 
vines to run on. Then when the picking time came, it 
was no little job, and less fun, to pick and to shell from 
one to three hundred quarts of beans each week for sale 
on the Wilmington market. More than once the call 
was sounded at four or five o'clock in the morning to 
begin the tedious day's work of shelling beans. That 
called for work and plenty of it, but it was just one of 
the things that came as a result of Papa's ingenuity in 
planning for variety on the farm. The one thing he tried 
to do was to keep some crop coming in as much of the 
time as possible to provide a steady income for the family. 

With Papa the matter of tilling the soil was for a 
purpose. It was the means of his livelihood and more. 
An illustration given to us from his early years makes 
clear his high motive in all of life. The Burgaw Baptist 
Church, of which he was a member at the time, was seek- 
ing to erect a place of worship, and Papa wanted to do 
his part. He promised forty dollars on the new building 
when he did not have a penny to give. In the early 
spring of that year he planted an acre of cantaloupes, 



26 



and never before had he seen cantaloupes grow any 
faster or produce a larger yield. When the crop was sold, 
the income from it amounted to forty dollars, the exact 
amount he had promised on the new church. He was 
farming for a purpose, and God honored that purpose. 

These lines would be incomplete without one other 
word. With Papa, his farming was a sacred task, and all 
about him he saw evidence of a divine plan. In the blade 
of grass, in the stalk of corn, in the flower, and in the 
bird he saw an evidence of a Supreme Being. George, 
one of the sons, relates this story. He and Papa were 
together at the plantation one day when the corn was 
in its prime. It gave evidence of a good crop, but rain 
was needed. In the afternoon a refreshing shower came. 
Later in the afternoon they were looking at the corn, and 
Papa said to George, "I have been anxious about the corn 
because it has been needing rain. All day I have been 
praying for rain, and here is the answer to my prayer." 
He loved to walk through the field of corn when the 
roots from the first and second joints on the stalks were 
reaching toward the ground to give anchorage and pro- 
tection against the winds and rains, and, with a stick he 
carried with him most of the time, he would point toward 
the roots that were reaching for the ground and ask, "Who 
can look at that without believing in God?" He loved 
to clip a simple weed and point out the beauty and sym- 
metry of it. The God whom he served had a plan for 
all things, even the weed and the flower about him, and 
he wanted that from the simple things of life his chil- 
dren would get this important lesson. For that reason, 
he considered his task as sacred, even in the midst of his 
growing crops. After his death in 1932, Olivia, one of 
the daughters, copied the following lines from a page in 
his Bible: 



27 



"I rise with the early dawn and retire when 
the chores of the world are done. I live with 
nature, walk in the green fields under the 
golden sunlight, out in the great alone where 
brain and brawn and toil supply mankind's pri- 
mary needs. And I try to do my humble part 
to carry out the great plan of God. Even the 
birds are my companions; they greet me with 
a symphone at the new day's dawn and chum 
with me till the evening prayer is said." 

— Author unknown. 

IN THE FRONT RANKS 

If by any chance in the reading of the preceding chap- 
ters, one has come to think that Papa's health or purpose 
in life prevented him from becoming a progressive farmer 
and from taking the lead in many of the things that he 
did, let such an one change his mind immediately. The 
truth is that in whatever he did, he was among those 
who were at the front. His very nature kept him from 
being satisfied with second best in any field in which he 
engaged. Thus, while he farmed for a purpose that was 
larger than his farm, he farmed so progressively that in 
more things than one others followed his example. 

In our immediate community, the Fordson tractor that 
Papa bought and put to work was the first one in use by 
any farmer. He had been reading about tractors, and 
he was anxious to put one into service on his farm. Finally 
the time came when he felt that necessity demanded it, 
and he ventured to purchase this useful machine and to 
enlarge his farm program to make the purchase of it a 
wise investment. In this act, as a pioneer in his commu- 
nity, he was venturing forward, and his venture proved 
to be wise and successful; however, he was not alone in 
this move very long. Before many summers had passed, 
other farmers had secured tractors and had come to think 
of them as an essential part of their farm equipment. 



28 



For many years at our home we had a very definite in- 
convenience. The open well, which was our one source 
of water, was fully two or three hundred yards from the 
house, and to us children it seemed much farther than 
that. The only way we had to keep an adequate supply 
of water at the house was to bring it from the well in 
buckets. Yes, there was a much-used path between the 
back porch and the well. Among the chores about the 
home, the bringing of water was one that none of us 
escaped. The one convenience that Mama wanted more 
than any other was water close to the house. In this desire 
she was joined heartily by Papa and most heartily by every 
child in the family; thus it was a day of rejoicing when a 
Lally Light Plant was purchased which carried with it a 
pump and a tank that put water on the back porch, in the 
kitchen, out to the barn for the stock, and to the shed 
where the clothes were washed. This plant was one of 
the first of its kind purchased and installed in the com- 
munity. 

One of the leading things in which Papa pioneered was 
the making and selling of sausage on the Wilmington 
market. Early in his married life he was faced with the 
necessity of enlarging his income, and he began killing 
hogs, grinding the meat into sausage, selling what of it 
he could to the stores, and peddling the rest from house- 
to-house in Wilmington. When one remembers that we 
lived eighteen miles from the city and that the means 
of transportation was by wagon or by train, he will see 
clearly that it was no easy task to peddle sausage in Wil- 
mington, but that is what Papa did winter after winter 
for forty years. During those years, the automobile came 
along, and along with it came many changes and im- 
provements that made his work easier, but on he went each 
winter making sausage and selling it in an ever-increas- 
ing quantity until "Hocutt Sausage" came to be widely 
known and much in demand. , 

More than fifteen years after Papa's death, Berta, one 
of the girls who lives in Wilmington, was explaining to 
a neighbor that she was from Pender County and was a 



29 



daughter of J. D. Hocutt, and the friend to whom she 
was talking exclaimed, "A daughter of J. D. Hocutt! I 
didn't know that. I have bought sausage from him and 
I shall never forget the uplifting, inspirational talks I had 
with him as I bought sausage." Many of his other friends 
have come to know Berta as the daughter of the man from 
whom they bought sausage and have spoken in similar 
terms of him. These experiences help to explain why 
there was such a ready sale for his products. 

As the years passed, others were attracted by his suc- 
cess in this effort, and a growing number of farmers began 
the same trade. The result was that competition became 
rather keen in Wilmington in the sausage business, but 
Papa went on making a good grade of sausage and selling 
it at a reasonable profit with no special trouble because 
of the trade and the reputation that he had built in this 
field. Since his death, no member of the family has fol- 
lowed him in this work, but«about over the county there 
are several small packing houses where pork is turned 
into sausage and the sausage into a steady stream of in- 
come that has brought thousands of dollars to the farmers 
of the county and employment to no few people. In 
this profitable trade in our county, Papa held a leading 
place. 

One day a representative from a nursery came to our 
home selling peach trees. He had a distinct advantage 
in making a sale because Papa was interested in fruit 
trees and because he saw in peaches an opportunity to 
make his farm more productive of a steady and needed 
income. Before the salesman left, five hundred trees 
were purchased, and later they were set out in one of the 
most fertile spots on the little farm. It was some three 
to four years before they began to yield; but when they 
did begin to produce fruit, the trees, along with the ripe 
peaches on them, were an attraction to people from far 
and near. Others talked of putting out trees on their 
farms. This was a bold venture that proved profitable, 
but it did not come empty-handed. The peaches were 
ripening entirely too fast to be hauled to market by wagons 



30 



or by a Ford car that was one of the first to come to the 
community. Out of the urgent necessity, a truck had to 
be purchased and that immediately, and that called for a 
move that involved a large expenditure. There was no 
money on hand, but Papa's credit was good wherever he 
was known; so the truck was bought, and the peaches 
were put on the market. When the summer was over, 
there was a debt that had to be worked off later, but the 
season and the peaches had proved profitable in more 
ways than one. The progressive nature of a far-sighted 
farmer had been put to the test; and though he was doing 
what others about him had not done, he was proving the 
wisdom of his venture, and others profited by his ex- 
perience. 

THE HAND-ME-DOWNS 

To provide adequate clothing for a family of fourteen 
is no little task for any couple, and this problem was one 
of the many that tested the ingenuity and the patience of 
Papa and Mama. We were just normal children, and 
perhaps some of us were too much on the normal side 
when it came to using clothes that had already been 
worn by one or two older brothers or sisters. Yes, we 
were a family of children whose graduating heights could 
well resemble the ascending steps of a staircase; and, as 
we grew taller in height, each in his turn fell heir to that 
which his older brother or sister was no longer able to 
use. This was both an advantage and a disadvantage. 
It was a blessing in that no garment was put aside as no 
longer useable until it was worn beyond repair. Then to 
us, it seemed as a disadvantage because it meant that a 
new dress or new pair of trousers was more often longed 
for than received. 

There are many things about those years that linger 
vividly in our minds. More than once two of the sisters 
would be seen wearing dresses made of the same material 



31 



and cut on the same pattern. This plan made it possible 
to save a few pennies in the purchase of material, and it 
made the task of the seamstress, a work at which Mama 
was proficient, a bit more simple. With some sisters, the 
matter of wearing dresses made on the same general pat- 
tern would be distasteful, and the sisters in our family 
were none the less human; however, when one of them 
faced the possibility of a new dress, the joy of it was not 
diminished by the fact that another sister had one made 
like it in every respect except the size. 

In this important lesson of life, this son had more than 
one experience that has lingered fresh in his mind. He 
is nearly two years younger than George, his preacher 
brother, and he came near missing his call to the ministry 
because he was not fully surrendered to the proposition 
of wearing the hand-me-downs when George got the new 
trousers. Quite frequntly the two of us would walk the 
two miles to Sunday School, and many times we were in 
the company of other boys in the community who went 
with us on Sunday afternoons. It was the one day in 
the week when each of us put on his best and made his 
way to the little church, about which more will be said 
later, but the fact that occasionally George would get new 
trousers and that his old ones would be given to me did 
not tend to make me more spiritually minded. Perhaps 
there is some consolation today in the fact that this writer 
is the larger in size of the two brothers, and his religion is 
no longer put to the test by having to wear his older 
brother's pants. Then, too, there is some consolation in 
the fact that both of us have grown old enough to get 
down on our knees and thank God for parents who did 
their best to provide for the needs of their children and 
who were patient and understanding when they realized 
that each of us wanted that which was new. 

Let no one think for a minute that the experiences de- 
scribed here were without thrills. One eventful day 
stands out in memory. Three of us boys went to Wilming- 
ton, eighteen miles away, in a buggy. Papa had gone in 
the early morning by train, and we were to meet him in 



32 



the big city where he was going to buy each of us a new 
suit of clothes. What a day! No child ever got more 
joy from Christmas than we did from the experiences of 
that day. We saw the sights that were to be seen, and, 
too, each of us got a new blue suit of clothes. That was 
something to talk about. We had something to show, 
and in true child-like fashion we put on a display. Not 
many Sundays had passed before the entire community 
knew of our trip to the city, and especially of our new 
clothes in which we delighted. Being the youngest of 
the three who made the trip that day, I requested the 
privilege of returning home with Papa on the train, and 
the request was granted. The joy of that ride for those 
eighteen miles on the train almost made me forgive 
George for being two years older and for his passing on 
to me some of his clothes when they were too small for 
him. 

Many other things could be said on this subject, but 
some of them should be favored by charitable silence. 
We have no purpose in seeking to relate only the harder 
experiences of the family. In the matter of clothes, we 
did not have all we might have wanted, but none of us 
suffered unduly, if at all. Today the experiences of those 
years have more the appearance of blessings than of suf- 
fering or of sacrifice. We had what, we needed. We 
were better off by far than we thought. We came to 
know how to appreciate things when we got them. Then 
we learned how to share with others, and we came to 
think a little, at least, of the needs of one another. Today 
we have homes and families of our own. We live in 
different communities or cities and some of us in different 
states and countries; however, we have remained a family 
of brothers and sisters, and each of us stands ready to 
help the others. If wearing hand-me-downs had any part 
in teaching us this lesson, it is worth all it cost and a 
thousand times more. We are not poorer but richer by 
having done it. 



33 



LET US FORGET 



The little farm on which we lived had to, be produc- 
tive to meet the demands and needs of the hungry, grow- 
ing children who had to be fed and clothed from the 
things it produced, and its yield did give evidence of fertile 
soil, but at no point did it sprout angel wings. They just 
did not grow on our farm. Everyone of us was a full- 
blooded descendant of Adam's race. We were human 
with perhaps a little added emphasis on the human side. 
We went to Sunday School and church regularly. Papa 
and Mama saw to that, and it was good they did. We 
needed to go. It is doubtful if the preacher realized how 
important his sermons were when we were in the con- 
gregation. 

There is one thing in particular that no one of us can 
accuse Papa and Mama of being partial about. Not one 
of us was exempted from the use of the correcting rod 
when it was needed, and that article was a much-needed 
part of our household equipment. It was kept in rather 
constant use. The instrument that served this purpose 
when this son was in the greatest need of it was a black 
paddle about twelve inches in length. The memory of its 
size and stinging effect still lingers, but the paddle is no 
more. It broke before this writer did. The day it was 
used last has not been forgotten. The need of such an 
instrument in our home was so urgent that not many days 
passed before Mama asked Robert to make another one to 
take the place of the one recently broken. She needed 
one about the kitchen to stir jelly with when she cooked 
it in large containers during the summer. That was her 
chief use for it, but rather frequently she used it to stir 
things other than jelly. When she called on Robert to 
fix it, he got a piece of green ashe. He was very careful 
about trimming it down, and when he finished with it, it 
was well shaped. When it was seasoned, it was hard and 
firm wood, and it stood the test of time and of frequent 
use. When the household goods were divided years later, 



34 



so far as we can recall, there was no particular contention 
about who would fall heir to this much-used and feared 
article. 

One day when George and I were rather young, Mama 
sent us to gather some squash that had gotten too old for 
table use and to feed them to the hogs. Each of us got 
about as many as he could carry in a bag and took them 
to the fence around the hog lot. Then one of us threw 
them over into the lot, and the other was cutting them 
with the axe so the hogs could eat them easily. The one 
throwing them over the fence faced a little too much 
temptation, and all of us know that temptation has been 
rather detrimental to the human race. The result was 
that not many squash had been thrown before there had 
to be a change; so we exchanged places, and the one 
throwing the squash then took good aim at the other 
to make sure of revenge. Before we knew it we were 
engaged in a desperate struggle to see which was the 
better man; and, as it always happened, Mama appeared 
on the scene just at the wrong time. Both of us were 
guilty. Mama knew it, and we knew it. It so happened 
at that particular time that Robert, one of the older 
brothers, and Bill Armstrong, a faithful Negro helper, 
were working out at the barn; and they witnessed all that 
took place. You could not prove much by me, and it is 
doubtful if you could by George, but they declared that 
one of us was crying, "Oh Mama, please quit," and the 
other was saying, "I won't do it no more." Poor prospects 
we were for preachers! Let others not be discouraged. 
If the Good Lord could make preachers out of us, there 
is plenty of hope for others. 

Another event deserves relating. It reveals human na- 
ture. One Sunday afternoon during the summer just 
before apples began to get ripe, George and I started to 
the apple orchard where there were about a dozen trees 
loaded with fruit that was beginning to turn red. As has 
been true of others, we were tempted by red apples; so 
we ventured in that direction. We had not gone far be- 
fore John discovered what we were doing, and he decided 



35 



to join us. Now John was some several years younger 
than either of us. At least we thought he was, and we 
considered ourselves too grown up to have him going 
along with us; however, there was not much we could do 
about it. We knew if we made him go to the house he 
would tell on us, but we very much did not want him to 
go. Since there was nothing else we could do, we let 
him go, but we gave him definite warning against his 
saying anything about our going to the apple orchard. 
When we had sampled the apples and had made our way 
back to the house, we observed that some neighbors had 
come to visit with us. All the members of our family at 
home and the visiting neighbors were sitting on the front 
porch enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon, and we came 
up as innocent looking as we could and joined them. Not 
many minutes had passed before John, who was sitting on 
the bannister in the center of the group, said, "We ain't 
been to the apple orchard." It was good for him that he 
was in the midst of the group. The occasion did not 
permit George and me to express our feelings. 

In her younger days, Alma, one of the younger sisters, 
seemed to get much joy in hearing Mama call one of 
the rest of us. That was especially true when she thought 
the one called might receive an application of the cor- 
recting rod. On such occasions she would express her 
Helight by saying, "Goody, goody, goody!" One day 
Mama called her when she was not sure the correcting 
rod would not be applied on her. She walked very slowly 
toward Mama and stopped at what she thought was a 
safe distance. Then in a very slow and question voice she 
said, "What — do — you — want?" For months thereafter 
she was the object of many laughs when a member of the 
family would say for her special benefit, "What — do — 
you — want?" 

The topic of this brief chapter is "Let Us Forget." In 
the spirit of charitable silence, we close these lines and 
leave the things untold to tantalize the minds of curious 



36 



readers. After all, we do not care to write a book on 
this topic. There are other things more pleasant and 
more profitable to relate. 

THE SECOND TABLE 

Did you ever eat at the second table? If you did, you 
are better able to understand the content of this brief 
chapter, and you are better able to appreciate the privi- 
lege of sitting down with the entire family assembled 
around the table when a good meal is enjoyed by each 
one present. In our family, the matter of some of us 
waiting for the second table was not a rare thing. That 
was especially true when we had company with us. Let 
the preacher come on Sunday, with perhaps one or two 
others coming along from church with us, and some of us 
knew that regardless of how hungry we were, we just had 
to wait until those who could be seated around the table 
had eaten to their satisfaction. 

As a rule, those of us who were younger were called 
upon to wait our turn, when waiting was necessary. It 
was not difficult to know how many and about who would 
be called upon to stand aside and let others have the first 
place. That depended entirely upon the number present 
for the meal. The long table that stretched diagonally 
across the dining room would seat about a dozen; thus 
when members of the family who lived elsewhere came in 
or when visitors came to eat with us, a proportionate 
number of us who were younger knew that we must 
give others the privilege of eating first. Though we did 
not welcome the privilege of waiting, there was no diffi- 
culty about it. When dinner was ready and the group 
was called, Mama took her place at the end of the table 
to give instructions about the seating of those who would 
eat at the first table; and when one came to the door for 
whom there was no room, an expression on her face or the 
ncd of her head gave the signal that was understood and 
was not questioned by those of us who had to wait for 
the second table. 



37 



As children, we enjoyed playing, as ordinarily children 
do, but somehow, at that particular time, there was not 
much inducement to play. There were other things that 
attracted our attention. We were hungry, and the sight of 
others enjoying a good meal just made our desire to eat 
all the more intense. We stood around close to the doors 
and windows and peeped in and saw the best pieces of 
chicken disappear at the hands of those blessed with the 
privilege of the first picking, and we wondered when 
those at the table would ever get through. They talked 
and ate and then talked and ate some more. We just 
knew that they had forgotten about us. By this time the 
good impressions made by the preacher in the sermon of 
the morning were about gone. We were thinking about 
other things. How human we were! 

On a few occasions the second table was not the limit. 
There were times when thirty to forty people shared in 
the Sunday dinners at home. Those were rare occasions, 
but they did come. At such times there were about three 
full tables of us. That called for no little shifting and 
plenty of patience on the part of those who ate last. 

One may wonder about how diminished those who 
waited found the table. Well, it had been relieved of 
some of its burden, and the best pieces of chicken were 
less conspicuous; however, there was always plenty for 
those who waited, and it was worth waiting for. As has 
been said in other places, we had to be careful where the 
pennies went because there was such a demand for them; 
but when it came to the matter of food, there was always 
an adequate supply on the table. Mama was a genius 
in the kitchen. She was not a miracle worker. She could 
not make something out of nothing, but she could take 
what she had and serve a meal that was fit for a king 
and then have some left. No member of our family can 
say that he went hungry. That didn't happen. 

There is another side to this matter of the second 
table. It was rather lonesome at home when the group 
got down to four or five or less. It didn't seem much 
like home. Too many were missing. It was not easy 



38 



to wait for the second table, but it was easier to do that 
than it was to eat at the first and only table when there 
were just a few present. It was a happy occasion when 
the entire family was there with all the in-laws and all 
the nieces and nephews included in the group. We looked 
forward to such gatherings. The food just tasted better 
when the entire group was at home. 

DOWN AT THE BEACH 

With our family it was necessary that we work, but it 
was not all work and no play. We put aside work for 
at least one day each summer and went either to Carolina 
or Wrightsville Beach for a day of fun and for a picnic. 
That was a day that we looked forward to, and it was a 
day long remembered and much talked about. We lived 
about fifteen miles from the ocean the way a crow would 
fly, but it was about twenty-five miles the way we had 
to go through Wilmington. That was a long distance in 
those days. That was before we began measuring a trip 
in terms of twenty or thirty minutes. When one traveled 
a long distance on a car then, the trip was talked about 
in terms of the number of tires he had to fix or the num- 
ber of times he had to stop to get water for the car. 

The matter of transportation was no little problem the 
first few summers that we made this trip to the beach. 
We did not have a car then, and as someone has said, not 
even a Ford. Remember there were fourteen of us chil- 
dren to go, and everyone of us was there for that great 
experience, and each one was ready on time. Then one of 
the thrills about it all was the fact that we were making a 
trip twenty-five miles from home — all the way to the 
beach. For that eventful day, Papa hired two automobiles 
with their drivers to go and take the family. Yes, we 
crowded in till those two cars were full, and the rest of 
the family went on the train to Wilmington and rode the 
trolley car from there to the beach. There were eighteen 
in the group, with the two drivers included. 



39 



One of the things of interest when we went to Wrights- 
ville was the fact that we got to ride across the sound on 
the trolley car that made regular runs from Wilmington 
to the beach. There was no road for cars across the 
sound; so at that point we parked the cars, and all of 
us got on the trolley car and rode across to the beach 
where we spent the day. It was no little experience for a 
family like ours, right off the farm with one day for a 
picinc, to get to ride across the sound on the trolley; and 
no doubt it was a sight long to be remembered and much 
to be talked about by those who saw us. We saw all 
that was going on, and most likely it was evident to all 
who were about us that we were not accustomed to trips 
and rides of that kind. 

The sight of the ocean, with its ever-restless waves 
stretching out into the blue, was as much a mystery as it 
was a thrill for us. It was something new for our un- 
trained eyes. We could not understand it. We stood and 
gazed as far as we could see, and we wondered why we 
could not see the other side. While we were enjoying this 
thrilling sight, Alma, one of the younger sisters, spoke 
up and said that she saw a fence on the other side; and 
for many days thereafter we laughed and teased her about 
seeing a fence on the other side. 

A part of the plan for the day was a swim in the surf, 
and all of us, with the exception of Mama, took advantage 
of that opportunity. That was before the days when peo- 
ple began to wear abbreviated bathing suits, but even so, 
Mama preferred to enjoy the day otherwise. The salt 
water and the waves tested our swimming ability or re- 
vealed the lack of it, but just the same we dared to ven- 
ture, and the experience was one of no little fun. As 
time passed, some of us got to the place that we could 
ride the waves and dive into them with reasonable skill. 
In later years, the writer of these lines was one of two 
who went out and rescued a man who had gotten beyond 
the point where he could make his way back to safety 
alone. 



40 



In August, 1915, when we took one of our first trips 
to the beach, we stopped in Wilmington for a picture of 
the entire family. Such a group was quite a test for a 
camera, but it came through all right, and the picture 
taken that day is one of the prized possessions of each 
member of the family. The studio where we went for the 
picture was on the fifth floor of the building, and we 
went up and down on the elevator. Then we looked out 
the window and saw the people walking on the street five 
stories below us, and they looked like ants walking along. 
That was almost too much for us in one day. Perhaps 
it was best that the building we were in had only five 
stories. 

A part of every picnic day was a big dinner. That was 
just a part of it, but it was a big part, and everyone of 
us was present for it. We thought we had been hungry 
before, but after taking a ride all the way to the beach and 
after going into the salt water for a swim, our appetites 
had grown to full size; and as a result, the chicken, the 
sandwiches, the cakes, and the pies that were packed in the 
lunch box were well devoured with nothing left for sup- 
per. One's appetite seems to know no limit on a day 
like that. 

The fun of a picnic at the beach did not remain a secret 
very long. We had something to talk about, and we left 
nothing untold. Thus it was not long until other fam- 
ilies began to go with us, and finally the Sunday School 
at the Riverside Church came to plan an annual outing 
at Carolina Beach. By that time Papa had bought a 
car and a truck, and we arranged seats in the truck to 
help carry the group. Robert drove the truck on most of 
the trips, and by his side was Gussie, a member of another 
family of fourteen that will be mentioned in another 
chapter. The day was most important for them. They 
were joined in matrimony later. 

Those days of outings were not without their meaning 
for us. In our plans for the year, they stood out and 
brought a challenge to us as we anticipated them. We 
could not go until the crops were finished and until other 
things were out of the way. When the day was finally 
decided upon and when we began to work toward it, 



41 



The Hocutt Family on the opposite page 

A picture of the entire family taken in August, 1915, the first 
time we went to the beach together. Reading from left to right, the 
four sitting in front are Zelma (Mrs. L. H. Dawson), John, Naomi 
Mrs. David Chambers), and Alma (Mrs. Fulton Blanchard). In Papa's 
lap is Betsy (Mrs. A. D. Wilder), and in Mama's lap is Louise (Mrs. 
Lamber E. Turner). Those on the middle row are Rosa (Mrs. Carlyle 
Powell), Papa, Mama, and David. Standing in the middle directly be- 
hind Papa and Mama is Manly. Those standing in the back are J. D., 
Berta (Mrs. J. C. Scott), Robert, Olivia (Mrs. Frank Marshburn), and 
George. 

the unfinished tasks were completed with an ever-increas- 
ing speed. We wanted nothing to hinder those plans, 
and usually nothing did. One day the car had to be 
taken to the garage on the morning we were to go, and 
the mechanic had to work a long time to fix it. The 
entire group waited for some time after the appointed 
hour to leave, and then the car that had been hired for 
that particular day was filled, and those in it went on 
their way while the rest of us waited through what seemed 
to be unending hours for our car to come and speed us on 
our planned trip. Those waiting hours detracted from 
the pleasure of the day, but they did not keep us home. 
We were almost ready to start walking, or running, if 
need be, to join those who had preceded us; however, 
when the day was over, it held only pleasant memories. 
That was true of all the days spent at the beach. They 
filled our minds with memories that have remained pleas- 
ant. The work of the year was made easier by this one 
day of fun and frolic. The family was molded more 
firmly into a unit by those days of outings together. 

WHERE TWO FAMILIES MET 
Let no one think for a moment that the Riverside 
Baptist Church near Burgaw, North Carolina, about which 
these lines are written, was composed entirely of the 
members of two families. There were many others in the 
community that helped to make up the membership of our 
little church, but there were two large families of four- 
teen children each who were loyal and faithful in at- 
tendance and in support of the church, and the presence 
of the members of these two families made a difference, 
and a big difference, in the attendance at the services. 



43 



Riverside Baptist Church where the family went to worship. The 
church was located near the North-East Branch of the Cape Fear River and 
about six miles from Burgaw. Some years ago due to small attendance, 
the group consolidated with the Burgaw Baptist Church. 



We refer to the family of Mr. Tom Batson, who lived 
on a large plantation between the church and the bend 
of the North East Branch of the Cape Fear River, and 
our family. We lived near the highway about two miles 
west of the church. With fourteen children in each of 
these family groups, naturally the success of the work in 
the church was dependent to no small degree upon the 
activities of the members of these families. When a 
new preacher or a visitor would come to our church, it 
was interesting to observe his reaction as he was intro- 
duced to the people present. Invariably someone would 
tell him to call each person a Batson or a Hocutt and 
he would be right most of the time, and that was about 
correct. 



44 



Our little flock at Riverside never grew to be very 
large, and there were reasons why that was true. We 
were located near the river, and the nearest bridge was 
about five miles away. That meant we could draw our 
membership from only a limited territory. This fact 
hindered our progress in numerical growth, but by no 
means did it indicate that we were lacking in interest or 
that our church was considered weak. More than once 
the annual meeting of the Wilmington Association was 
held at Riverside, and the faithful women who knew how 
to meet the need on such an occasion did their full duty 
in preparing bountiful dinners of fried chicken, ham, 
country sausage, cakes, pies, etc. Not once did any one 
attending such a meeting at Riverside go away hungry, 
and no one was disappointed in the dinner. Our flock 
was known far and wide as a church of not-too-large 
membership, but it was composed of a faithful and thor- 
oughly dependable group. 

Another interesting matter was the fact that we never 
had services more than one Sunday each month except 
during special revival meetings. As a rule, our pastor 
lived at Burgaw and served other churches in what we 
called the Burgaw Field. Usually the time for our service 
was the first Sunday morning, and part of the time we 
had a service on the preceding Saturday afternoon or 
night. That made the first Sunday the big day of the 
month for us, and we looked forward to it. Always on 
the preceding Sunday our superintendent would remind 
us that the next Sunday would be preaching Sunday, and 
he would urge us to be on time for Sunday School so we 
would not take the time from the preaching service. With 
few exceptions, we had our largest attendance of the 
month on this Sunday. After the Sunday School had 
closed, we would have a brief intermission, and then we 
were called into the church for the important service of 
the day and of the month. 



45 



Our pastors believed the Bible just as it is written, 
and they preached it with vim and vigor. They did not 
soft-pedal their statements about hell and the eternal 
doom of the sinners, and they waxed eloquent in their 
descriptions of heaven and of eternal life. It was no 
unusual thing for members of the congregation to be 
seen shedding tears during the service. We were lifted 
to lofty heights by the men of God who came to feed cur 
little flock. He fed us on the "Bread of Life," and then 
he went into our homes where he was fed on bread which 
is "the staff of life." Each Sunday when the service was 
over, we stood around on the grounds and talked and 
visited for about thirty minutes before departing for our 
homes; and always when we left the church, the preacher 
was on the way home with one of the families where he 
enjoyed a good Sunday dinner along with the members 
of the family where he was a welcome guest. 

It was no unusual thing for the preacher to come to 
our home, and we always delighted in his coming. Mama 
anticipated the possibility of our having him with us on 
preaching Sunday, and as a rule, some advance prepara- 
tions were made on Saturday. We have vivid memories 
of seeing the sisters stirring the chocolate and fixing the 
cakes three or four layers high, and the sight of such 
preparation for Sunday assured us of better things to come. 
Then many times on Sunday morning there was the 
ice cream freezer to be turned. Yes, the dessert had to 
be ready to go along with the fried chicken, rice and 
gravy, etc. The preacher was coming, and some other 
friends might come with him. That made a good dinner 
an urgent necessity. No wonder two sons in the family 
felt called to preach early in life! 

A history of no little size could be written about the 
activities of the Riverside Church. We had just a small 
one-room building with no Sunday School rooms, and 
many years passed before curtains were provided to sepa- 
rate the classes. Each class took its place in one corner 
or in some part of the building, and there the teacher 
set forth to teach the Word of God to pupils who saw all 



46 



that was going on in all the classes and heard much that 
each teacher said. No one will deny that we were lim- 
ited in equipment, but at the same time, no one in that 
group will admit till this day that we were limited in 
interest or that we had a weak Sunday School. This writer 
will never forget those days, and in particular he will 
never forget his teachers who touched his life by the lives 
they lived and the truths they taught. 

Not far from the church was a large creek that flowed 
into the river just a short distance away, and we went 
there each summer after our revival meeting in August 
to baptize the new converts. Close by the river were 
graves of early settlers of our country. Dates on the stones 
at the graves carried the mind of the reader back before 
the days of the Revolutionary War. It was an historic 
spot, but much of its history was unknown. We called 
the location the "Grave- Yard Landing." In former days, 
boats had stopped there on their trips up and down the 
river. At this sacred spot many in the community fol- 
lowed Christ in the sacred ordinance of baptism. It was 
a natural setting for such a service, and many eyes saw 
pictured there the truths proclaimed centuries ago by 
John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan River. 

Then there were other occasions when the "Two Fam- 
ilies Met." On January the fifth, 1922, Robert, an older 
brother, and Gussie, a daughter in the Batson family, met 
at a sacred altar in our church and were pronounced 
husband and wife, and the knot still holds. This wedding 
was the result of many visits between the members of the 
two families, and especially many visits on the part of 
Robert, who did his courting with interest and determined 
effort. On another such occasion Rosa was married- to 
Carlyle Powell shortly before they sailed for Africa as 
missionaries. The decorations for the ceremony were so 
arranged that the aisle in which they entered was named 
America, and the aisle they marched out was named 
Africa. The words were spelled wtih flowers fastened 
to thewires that had been arranged for the curtains that 
divided the Sunday School classes. On a later date, Zelma, 



47 



a younger sister, was married to Harper Dawson at the 
same altar; and the last time the church was used for 
such an occasion by any member of our family, Louise, 
the youngest sister, was married to Lambert E. Turner. 

Things have changed now. The building still stands, 
but the Riverside Church as such is no more. Many 
members who were leaders in the church have gone to 
their reward, and most of the young people have married 
and located in other places. Then the good roads and 
the coming of the automobile brought the community 
much closer to Burgaw; thus a few years ago, the River- 
side Church merged with the Burgaw Church. This 
means that the little church has gone from its sacred spot 
of hallowed memories, but it lives on in the memories 
of those who were blessed by its noble ministry. An evi- 
dence of the fruitfulness of the Riverside Church can be 
seen in the fact that it sent out one missionary to Africa, 
two ministers, two others who became ministers' wives, a 
number of deacons, and a larger number of Sunday School 
teachers and faithful Christian workers. Today we are 
a scattered flock, but we are thankful for the "tie that 
binds." 

A LIGHT ON THE HILL 

One of the abiding centers of the community that 
stood as a landmark through the years was the little, un- 
painted, one-room school building in which one teacher 
patiently tried to teach all the subjects through the seventh 
grade. The school ground, with the building in the cen- 
ter, was a part of our little farm and was located near the 
main road on an elevation slightly above the level of our 
yard. When this school had its beginning is a matter 
unknown to this writer, but the fact that it was located 
on our farm is an evidence of interest in education on 
the part of Papa and Mama. To them, this was one in- 
stitution that had to be located in the community and close 
to our home. And why shouldn't it be close to our home? 



48 



There were more pupils enrolled in the school from our 
home than from any other family; and from the time 
Rosa, the oldest daughter, began her schoolwork until a 
new, two-room building was erected on another road in 
the community, there were two or more of us in this 
school all the time until eleven of the fourteen of us had 
learned the alphabet and the multiplication tables in this 
one-room instiution of learning. It was in this school 
that half of our family gradutaed from the seventh grade, 
and four of us who started to school there completed the 
first seven grades in the new building erected nearby, 
where the youngest three started their schoolwork. 




The one-teacher school building where eleven of us started to 
school and where seven of us completed the first seven grades. It was 
known as the Ashton School. 



On cold mornings in particular it was a mighty nice 
thing to be close to the school, but there were some fea- 
tures of it that did not please us too well. For one thing, 



49 



we were close enough to go home for dinner, and that 
fact denied us the privilege of taking along with us a tin 
bucket and of sitting down at school as others did and eat- 
ing our lunch out of a tin bucket, and surely no child's 
education is complete who is denied that privilege. At 
least some of us felt that way about it. But that isn't all. 
By the time we ran home for dinner and got back to school, 
the other children had finished eating and were in the 
midst of a ball game, and we either had to stand by and 
see them play or be the last ones chosen on the opposing 
sides of the game. 

Another undesirable feature about our being close to 
the school was the fact that we did not get to join the other 
boys and girls in the long walk to and from school, and 
just how much that handicap deprived us of we did not 
know. We knew that much that happened during the 
day was the topic of conversation among those who 
walked together on the way home from school, and we 
could not be with them to hear what was said and to get 
in our say. About all of this we were not too happy, but 
we had little time to think about it because by the time 
we got into the yard at home there was plenty of work 
ready and waiting for us, and our little minds that had 
been enlightened ( ? ) during the day were occupied with 
more practical things. 

From the viewpoint of later years, we look back today 
to the one-room and one-teacher school with many cher- 
ished memories crowding into our minds. Those were 
happy, gleeful, care-free days filled with more of life's 
sweet experiences than we realized. At night there were 
lessons to learn, and we gathered around the long table in 
the dining room and studied by the kerosene lights. Part 
of the time the teacher lived at our home, and her pres- 
ence brought an added touch that lingers in our thoughts. 
We had good teachers who showed an interest in all the 
pupils, and they were admired and appreciated by all the 
people of the community, and especially by the young 
men. They had to be teachers of no little ability and 



50 



The new Ashton School building with two rooms 
providing space for two teachers, a great improvement 
over the original one-room building. The three younger 
members of the family began their schoolwork here. In 
later years this school was consolidated with the school 
at Burgaw. 

with plenty of ingenuity to handle the problems of disci- 
pline in such a group and to direct our study through all 
of the first seven grades, and this had to be done in a 
creditable way for the sake of those who would continue 
their studies in other schools. We have no purpose in 
seeking to magnify this school above those of later days 
with better equipment and more teachers who teach under 
more favorable circumstances, but we do say that we 
learned some fundamental lessons of life in this little one- 
teacher school that have followed us through the years, 
and life has been enriched because of the experiences we 
had in those days. The multiplication tables we learned 
there have remained unchanged, and the ties of friend- 
ship formed in those days have lingered to make life 
sweeter for us. 



51 



Before leaving this subject, we would give an expres- 
sion from another viewpoint. The little school described 
above afforded to each of us better opportunities for an 
education than either Papa or Mama had. They had 
taken advantage of the best they had, but for their chil- 
dren they would seek to provide the best possible, and 
for them the little school on the hill was only the begin- 
ning of greater plans in their minds for their children. 
Today as we look back upon those days, we feel unworthy 
of the heritage we have, and we express again and again 
our thanks and gratitude for the way our footsteps have 
been directed by noble and far-sighted parents. The pass- 
ing of the years has made the little school ground on which 
we played all but too sacred for our feet. Years ago, with 
the coming of highways and school buses, the children of 
the community have been taken to the more modern 
school at Burgaw, the county seat of Pender County; but 
the "Light on the Hill" has never gone out for those 
who sought the first steps of an education there. 

A FATHER AND MOTHER IN ISRAEL 

Papa and Mama possessed the qualities of good parents. 
They knew what it meant to have the care and responsi- 
bility of providing for and rearing a large family of chil- 
dren. They were blessed with some natural ability, and 
they received no little practical experience before we were 
old enough that we did not need parental care. They were 
far above the average in many things, but in nothing did 
they show more apt qualities than they did as parents. 

One thing that will linger long in the mind of each of 
us is the fact that they were firm in their statements and 
in their decisions. They seldom spoke to any of us twice 
about the same thing. They were not harsh in their 
statements and requests, but there was something about 
the ring in their voices and the expression on their faces 
that made us understand that ready obedience was ex- 
pected. There was no talking back to them. We knew 
better than to attempt it. Well do we remember some 
experiences when there was an inclination to be slow in 



52 



following instructions about afternoon chores when we 
came from school. We boys delighted in playing ball, 
and when once we had started a game, it was not easy to 
stop and do the work that was waiting for us. Mama had 
no objections to our playing ball. She helped us to 
make balls several times, but it was her rule that we must 
do the work first, and then we could play. A few times 
when she had reminded us of this rule, we let our desire 
to play get the best of us. When that happened, she ap- 
peared on the scene unannounced, and the ball that had 
given us so much delight was taken from us. Once or 
twice she gave us the ball again when the work was fin- 
ished, but there were a few times when the balls were 
never returned. It was a little hard on us then, but we 
had to learn the lesson of obedience and of work first 
and then play. 

While Papa and Mama were firm in their dealings with 
us, we understood that they had our interest at heart. We 
knew they would go their limit for us in any need. We 
were their children, and as such, we were their delight. It 
was for us that they labored and toiled, and we knew it. 
When anything was wrong with any of us, immediate at- 
tention was given to the matter. There was never any 
delay in calling the doctor if one of us was not well. They 
were interested in our well-being, and that interest did 
not slacken as we grew older. As different members of 
the family went away to school, there was much concern 
about how they were getting along, and not many days 
passed without someone going to the post office about a 
mile from home for any mail that had come from those 
who were in school. This interest lingered on through 
the school days and beyond. In fact, it never stopped. If 
at this point they made any mistake, it was the mistake of 
doing too much for us and too little for themselves. In 
things that concerned themselves, they were most un- 
selfish; but in the matter of their interest in their children, 
no parents ever excelled them. 



53 



One of life's important lessons that Papa and Mama 
taught each of us was the lesson of work. They did not 
drive us, but there was no mistake about their teaching us 
to work. There was no way around that matter. They 
were not blessed with too much of this world's goods, but 
they were blessed above many in the size of their family, 
and that fact made work for each of us an inescapable 
necessity. There was no limit to the things that had to 
be done, and no one was excused from sharing in the 
doing of those things. It was a little hard on us then, but 
now we are better able to understand that "All things 
work together for good to them that love the Lord" (Ro- 
mans 8:28). In the struggle for existence, we learned 
the lesson of honest toil. 

One further word needs to be said at this point. Papa 
and Mama taught more by example than they did by word 
of mouth. They pointed the way and set the pace, and 
we had to keep on the move to follow them. They ex- 
pected nothing of us that they did not do themselves. In 
the matter of church attendance, they never sent us; they 
took us. We were there with them, and that meant that 
we were in the church at the hour of worship and that 
our behavior was such as would be expected of people in 
religious services. The same was true in other things. At 
meal time they were ready and in their places, and they 
expected the same of us. If for any reason one of us was 
not there, they knew why. If there are any failures among 
us, let no one for a minute charge that failure to poor or 
inadequate parental care and instructions. They did their 
duty well. The rest lies with their children. 

A FIXED PURPOSE 

For Papa and Mama it was not enough just to live and 
to provide for the physical needs of the members of their 
family. This had to be done, and it was done, but for 
them there was something in life that was more important 
than merely making a living. They were living for a pur- 



54 



pose, and they wanted that their children, all fourteen of 
them, would have an understanding of the higher purposes 
of life and that they would seek to live and to serve in an 
honorable and worthy manner. 

A better understanding of this fixed purpose becomes 
evident when we remember that Papa and Mama had 
very limited opportunity for schoolwork. Neither of them 
went beyond the fourth or fifth grade, but they were de- 
termined that their children would have the best oppor- 
tunity possible for completing their high school and col- 
lege work. This was no idle dream with them. It was 
as much of a necessity as the food that went on their 
table. Having been deprived of this privilege themselves, 
they would make any sacrifice necessary to see to it that 
the door of education would remain open for their chil- 
dren. 

At first thought, one might think that it was rather 
ambitious for parents who had received only a few years 
of schoolwork themselves and who were farming mainly 
on rented land to think of and to plan toward sending 
fourteen children through high school and college. Such 
an undertaking would challenge and test the faith and 
highest hope of any man and wife, and many a couple 
would say that it could not be done and would not attempt 
it, but not so with Papa and Mama. With them it had 
to be done. There was no thought of doing otherwise. 
It was an undertaking that they thought of as being di- 
vinely given. It was a thing that God was expecting of 
them, and in that realization they faced it honestly and 
purposefully. Not once did they flinch from it. This 
was the purpose for which they were living, and this was 
the purpose toward which they would lend their every 
energy and for which they would gladly and cheerfully 
make any needed sacrifice. This was an expensive under- 
taking that did call for no little sacrifice, but no member 
of the family has ever heard one word of complaint from 
those who had the education of their fourteen children as 
their fixed purpose. 



55 



Later chapters will give in detail how this purpose 
became a reality. Here we would give some glimpse of 
the ingenuity and planning that would give hope to such 
a noble undertaking. A fundamental truth reveals the 
real secret that is the very foundation for all that has been 
said or will be said about the lives of these two people. 
It can be said in four simple words, namely: THEY BE- 
LIEVED IN GOD. To them the Bible was an open 
book, and the God about whom they read in "The Book" 
was ever a constant reality with them. They believed 
that the God who opened jail doors could open school 
doors, and with that faith they did not think of the under- 
taking as impossible. With them there was a definite 
feeling that they were "labourers together with God" in a 
high and holy task. This feeling of assurance removed 
from them the grind of their daily tasks and kept them 
from tiring through the long years of endless toil. 

A second statement reveals a secret of success that 
should be linked inseparably with the thought already 
given. This guiding principle, too, is simple. Papa and 
Mama added plan, hands, and feet to their purpose, their 
faith, and their prayers. They did not sit idly by and 
wait to see accomplished that which they believed was 
God's will for their lives. They arose in the early morn- 
ing and toiled till late at night to make their purpose a 
reality. The little farm on which they lived along with 
the land that was rented had to yield an hundredfold. In 
addition to the regular crops of most farms, this little 
farm was called upon to produce extra vegetable crops for 
the market in the early spring and throughout the summer. 

Mr. C. M. Beach, who for many years was connected 
with Dell High School and later with Wingate Junior 
College, was visiting in our home one spring when it was 
about the time to begin shipping asparagus. He and Papa 
were looking at the two-acre field of asparagus, and Mr. 
Beach spoke of it as a crop that would yield some early 
income for the family. In response, Papa replied some- 
what as follows: "Yes, it will bring in some early income. 
I need it to help pay the expenses of my children in school. 



56 



That field of asparagus is dedicated to God for the educa- 
tion of my children." It was in that spirit and for that 
purpose that he was a tiller of the soil. 

CASTING FORTH THE MANTLE 
Papa was a lover of preachers. To him they were a 
select and noble group of men. He thought of the min- 
istry as a work for God-called men who would give them- 
selves willingly and completely into the hands of the Lord 
to be used of Him in the greatest of all fields of service. 
Nothing of any other nature stirred his heart and soul as 
did the simple preaching of the gospel by an able, cour- 
ageous, consecrated, and God-called preacher. He would 
gladly travel a long distance to hear one sermon by a man 
of renown in the ministry. If he could have done the one 
thing- that he wanted to do more than anything else in 
life, he would have been a great preacher of the gospel. 
He talked of great preachers. He studied their greatness. 
He longed in his innermost being to be among them. Deep 
in his heart he felt the urge and call of God to this noble 
work, and in all sincerity he yielded to the call and was 
ordained as a Baptist minister. With him there was no 
conflict between his feeling of a call as expressed here 
and a call to the mission fields as already has been de- 
scribed. He could not think of the ministry without think- 
ing of missions. He thought all preachers and all Chris- 
tians should have a deep interest in missionary work. 

Of necessity Papa's work in the ministry was limited, 
and this limitation was due in part to his being unable to 
get the preparation in school that he so much longed for. 
He had a high conception of the ministry. To him it was 
a high calling and a sacred task. There was no place in 
his thinking for the minister who was satisfied with any- 
thing less than his best, and he was not willing to excuse 
himself and do a half-way job on the grounds that he 
was limited in his preparation for the work; however, it 
was evident to him that he would be unable to serve in 
a manner comparable to his high conception of the gospel 
ministry. 



57 



A second thing that put some limitations on what he 
could do in the work that was dear to his heart was his 
fast-growing family of children. He loved his family, 
and he had no sympathy for a man who would fail to do 
his best to support the members of his household in a 
worthy manner. To him his children were a sacred trust, 
and he would be the last man to deny that trust. They 
must be adequately cared for, and they must have some 
opportunities and privileges that were denied him. Thus 
the demands of his family made it necessary for him to 
maintain a reasonably large income. It took food and 
clothing and plenty of it to meet the needs of the young- 
sters in his home. There was a time when a barrel of 
flour would last about five weeks, and one summer over 
a hundred gallons of syrup were made and kept for the 
hungry mouths of his children, but it did not last for the 
twelve months. Flour and syrup were just two items. 
There were many other things that had to be had pro- 
portionately. This demand would constitute a constant 
drain on the energies of the strongest of men, and they 
left Papa no time to be idle. His was a busy life, and 
there was no way around it. With this responsibility 
upon his shoulders, he had little or no time for sermon 
preparation, and no one realized better than he that it 
was impossible for him to render a service of an acceptable 
nature in the work that was dear to his heart. 

For a number of years Papa served as best he could as 
pastor of some of the small churches near our home in 
the Wilmington Association. Before the days of auto- 
mobiles, he drove a white horse that was partially blind. 
He would leave home on Saturdays for services at 
the appointed hours on Saturday and Sunday. Quite 
frequently one of the older sons went with him to keep 
him company on his journeys and to prevent his becoming 
fearful due to his nervous condition. He went regularly 
to all the meetings of the association and to all gatherings 
where members from different churches came together for 
services. It was his nature to be one in their midst. He 



58 



loved the work, and he loved the brethren; however, after 
serious and prayerful consideration, he decided it would 
be best for him to discontinue the work of a pastor and 
to devote himself to the education of his children. It was 
evident to him that he could not do both of these things 
well, and with him anything that was worth doing at all 
was worth doing well. That was especially true as he 
thought of the two major things before him, namely: the 
work of the ministry, and the education of his children. 

There was another element that entered into his con- 
sideration of this most serious matter, and that thought 
touched a tender place in his heart. As he thought of his 
family, his consideration of their needs went far beyond 
the matter of food, clothing, shelter, and so many years in 
school. Each of his children was to him a gift from God, 
and each one had talents and abilities worthy of the 
highest development. With him and with Mama there 
was a feeling and a hope that if they would give them- 
selves to the proper training and education of their chil- 
dren that at least some of them might be called of God 
into the work that they themselves so longed to do but 
felt themselves unprepared for. With that in mind, Papa 
did not withdraw from the ministry. He had no thought 
that he was failing to do the will of God, but instead he 
felt that his was a peculiar task. He would magnify the 
work of the God-called minister. He would serve as a 
faithful worker in his church to the best of his ability. 
Then he and Mama would give their lives for the educa- 
tion of their children, and this was done with a prayer 
that their children would be responsive to the call of the 
Master in whatever field they were led and would render 
more effective service because of their opportunity of an 
education. They would not decide what their children 
should do in life. No parent should do that, and no wise 
parent would attempt it. However, they could work, and 
they could do their best to put their children under the 
best influence and in the best atmosphere possible, and 



59 



then they could leave the rest with God. That is exactly 

what they did, and they did a good job of it. Different 
members of the family can recall many conversations 
that showed purpose behind decisions and plans that in- 
volved the family. We were led to believe that God had 
a plan for every life, and we were persuaded that the 
advantage of an education was a sacred trust; and when we 
saw the sacrifices that were made to that end, we could 
not help but realize something of the seriousness of life 
and the greatness of the blessings afforded us. 

Two incidents will give further evidence of the hopes 
they held for their children. George, an older brother 
who is a minister, was riding in the buggy with Papa to 
the plantation one day. In some way the conversation 
between the two was turned to the presidents of our coun- 
try. Papa spoke of how some men had arisen to the 
presidency from very humble beginnings. They were dis- 
cussing some of the things that made some of our presi- 
dents great men. As they rode along and talked together, 
in all seriousness Papa turned to George, a lad in his 
teens, and said to him, "George, why don't you be presi- 
dent?" That expression was no idle dream. He was 
trying to stir within his son the desire to live a noble and 
a worthy life. The other incident was in the form of a 
letter received from Mama by the other preacher son 
after she learned that he had been elected to a place of 
leadership in the Baptist Young People's Union at what 
was then Buie's Creek Academy. The letter was tear- 
stained, and in the heart of it was the following statement 
that has not been forgotten: "I am thankful for the place 
you have in the Baptist Young People's Union. I have 
not been able to do much for the Master myself. I hope 
I can live for Him and serve Him through you children." 

LAUNCHING OUT 

It was a mettle-testing experience for Papa and Mama 
when Rosa and David, their two oldest children, were 
ready for high school. They were confronted with prob- 
lems that would have been too difficult for many parents. 



60 



In the first place, there were no high schools immediately 
available. We lived five miles from Burgaw, the county 
seat of Pender County, where the nearest high school was 
located. That was before the day of good roads and auto- 
mobiles, and it was before the day when county schools 
received the interest and attention they needed to give 
them their proper standing. The Baptist people of North 
Carolina saw clearly the need of offering better educational 
opportunities to the youth of the state, and, as a result, 
several Baptist high schools were started in different sec- 
tions of the state. One of these schools was located at 
Delway in Sampson County, some thirty-five miles from 
our home. It was to this school that Papa and Mama 
wanted their children to go. 

The most serious problem faced at that time was the 
matter of finances. It takes money to send children away 
from home to school, and money was a thing of which 
they had little. They had eleven children at that time, 
and it took much work and careful planning to keep them 
fed and clothed; therefore, it had been impossible to save 
the necessary money to send any of them away to school. 
That made it necessary for school expenses to be provided 
year by year along with all the other demands of a large 
and growing family. Then the same advantage must be 
offered to each of their children, and that made their 
undertaking all the more serious and difficult. Nothing 
but true faith would stand the test of such a venture. 

Still another problem before them was the matter of 
setting a precedent. Before that time, few parents in 
the community had sent their children off to school, and 
not all the people thought that Papa and Mama were 
wise in their plans; however, they dared to pioneer in 
what they thought was a wise and a most necessary step. 
Fortunately, a number of others have done the same thing, 
and today many young people from the community have 
had the benefit of training in the best schools and colleges 
in the land. 



61 



It was in the fall of 1908 when Papa and Mama 
launched out on the bold and daring venture of an edu- 
cational career for their children that stretched across 
more than a quarter of a century. Mere human language 
will not describe all that went into that undertaking when 
two little trunks were packed and when two children, a 
son and a daughter, were told good-by as they started on 
their journey toward a high school and college education. 

The highest hopes, the noblest purpose, the greatest 
sacrifice, the most genuine faith, and the most sincere 
prayer of an humble man and woman were all combined 
on that eventful day when they dared to stake all they 
had against the promises of God as they sent out from their 
home their oldest son and daughter in search of a Christian 
education. 

On the day of their departure, Papa took them to 
Ashton, the little railway station, where they took a train 
to Rose Hill, a distance of perhaps forty miles. From there 
they were taken on wagons some ten miles across the 
country to Dell High School, a good place in a good loca- 
tion for a young man or a young woman to go to school. 
This school closed a number of years later, as did many 
others of its kind, but it served a noble purpose for many 
years. Seven members of our family took part or all of 
their high school work there. 

ALL HANDS ON THE OARS 

In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he said, 'Tor 
we are labourers together with God." That verse will 
explain much that was accomplished in our family. It 
was not all done by human strength. God was at work 
in ways that we did not realize. Then as a family, we had 
to work together. There just had to be co-operation on 
the part of each member. There was no other way for 
us. Papa and Mama saw to it both by example and by 
teaching that there were no loafers among us while we 
were at home. 



62 



The effort to make the farm as productive as possible 
required diligent work over a period of many months. 
All of us know that there is little idle time on the farm, 
even during the winter. In the early spring the land 
must be prepared, and the crops must be planted. Then 
in the late fall the harvest time comes. These two im- 
portant seasons would come while school was in session, 
and that made it necessary for some of us to stop school 
in the early spring to start the crop and for us to remain 
at home in the fall through the harvest season. In that 
way many of us, and particularly the boys, lost much time 
from school until we reached the age that we were sent 
away to school. 

It is not an easy thing for a child to remain at home 
and work on the farm in the fall of the year after other 
boys and girls have started to school, but of necessity we 
had to do it. The cotton had to be picked, and that called 
for help from the girls as well as the boys. On the way 
to and from the field, we passed the school grounds where 
we saw other boys and girls at school and at play. Then 
in early September we saw an older brother or sister or 
both leave home to enter school. Somehow as children 
we did not understand why it had to be that way, and we 
did not like it too much. To us it did not seem to make 
good sense. We didn't think it was fair. But one day, 
some years later, this son came to see things in a different 
light. 

The time had come when he was one of the two mem- 
bers of the family attending what was then Buie's Creek 
Academy, now Campbell College. He had lost about 
five years from school, and he was much discouraged be- 
cause he was behind in his work. One day he received 
a letter from Rosa, who had gone to Africa as a mission- 
ary. In the letter she said something like this: "I know 
you have lost a lot of time from school, and I know you 
are discouraged because of it. I wish I could help you, 
but I can't; however, I do want to tell you that you helped 
to pick the cotton that sent me to school, and I want to 
thank you for it. The cotton you picked helped to pre- 



63 



pare me for the work I am doing here." That letter gave 
a different meaning to things that had happened. Then 
it was that this writer dropped his head and thanked God 
that he had been privileged to pick cotton while older 
brothers and sisters were away at school, and he wished 
that he had picked more cotton and that he had done it in 
a different spirit. 

Between the sessions of school, it was full speed ahead 
on the farm for all of us, and that included the sisters as 
well as the brothers. They could take a hoe and get the 
grass out of the peanuts or corn as fast and as well as men 
could do it. They took their place by the side of Papa, 
and they did their part working by the side of Negro 
helpers and thought nothing of it. We boys were at the 
plow handles. In later years one of us was on the tractor. 
During the rush season of the summer, we worked that 
way six days to the week. 

We did most of our farming about two miles from 
home, and that made, it necessary for us to take our dinner 
along in a large tin bucket. Mama cooked enough at 
breakfast to fix for our dinner, and that was plenty be- 
cause we were hungry when dinner time finally arrived. 
At noon Papa would take his coat and spread it out on 
the ground and then spread on his coat the things Mama 
had prepared for us to eat. With each of us sitting on 
the ground around the coat, we proceeded to satisfy our 
hunger. Usually there was a large bowl of hominy with 
gravy mixed in it, and on top of the hominy was a piece 
of meat for each one of us. When that meat was ham, 
and it was occasionally, it had put just the right seasoning 
into the hominy, and was it good! There was a spoon 
for each of us, and each in his turn went after the hominy, 
all eating from the same bowl. That was before the day 
of germs ... ha! Occasionally two or more of us would 
move toward the dish at the same time, and all but one 
would have to back off. One day Olivia, one of the older 
sisters, made several attempts to get a spoonful of hominy, 



64 



and another beat her to it each time. Finally in somewhat 
of a desperate condition, she backed off and made a dive 
for the dish, saying, "I guess I will get some," and she did, 
but at the expense of others. 

Mama never went to the field with us. She was the 
queen of the home, the home-maker, and the home- 
keeper. She was at her best there. All meals were cooked 
by her or under her supervision, and she was a master 
in the kitchen. The friends who once tasted of her cook- 
ing welcomed an opportunity to visit the home for a meal. 
Along with the cooking, there were the clothes to be 
made, to be mended, and to be washed; and this was no 
easy task where there were so many for whom clean clothes 
had to be provided. She did not go to the field because 
the greatest need for her was in the home. Usually one 
or two of the older girls remained at home to help her. 
It was a matter of the complete family circle at work. All 
hands were on the oars. It had to be that way. 

AFTER- CLASS CHORES 

This matter of our going to school was a co-operative 
affair. Each brother and sister received some help from 
Papa or from some older member of the family who had 
already finished school, and then each one was expected 
to do what he could toward his expenses while in school. 
It had been hard work for us while at home, and the same 
was true while in school. We were not there for play. 
The best figure we can arrive at indicates that school ex- 
penses amounting to approximately $8,500.00 were taken 
care of by work done after classes, between classes, or 
on Saturdays. This figure, which is close to one third of 
the entire cost of school work away from home, includes 
some amounts borrowed by some of the sisters in their 
junior and senior years that were repaid soon after their 
graduation. 

An account of the things done in an effort to help meet 
school expenses by different members of the family may 



65 



seem like an exaggeration, but in relating the story we 
are trying to be careful not to overdraw the picture. The 
purpose of these lines is an effort to give encouragement 
and inspiration to others who may have to toil long and 
late to secure funds for college expenses. It is not to one's 
discredit if he has to work while in school. This hard- 
ship, if it is a hardship, may prove to be a vital part of one's 
college career. No member of our family is any the worse 
o J by having gotten his school work this way. 

Work done by the sisters reveals that the training re- 
ceived at home was carried over and put to good use dur- 
ing school days. All eight of them had some after-class 
chores. They worked in the kitchen, waited on tables, 
checked laundry, did club work, answered telephones and 
door bells, helped in bursar's office, worked in campus 
store, and did substitute teaching in elementary grades. 

The chores done by the boys varied in about the same 
manner as the things done by the girls. We picked cot- 
ton, cut wood, worked in the dining halls and boarding 
houses, swept floors, drove tractors, built fires, served as 
janitor in literary society, helped to clear new ground, 
helped carpenters, drove school buses, and served as man- 
ager of a "Bachelor's Club." 

At one time four members of the family, two sisters 
and two brothers, were in college at the same time. It 
would have been impossible for this to have happened 
without each of the four carrying his or her full part of 
the load. It was not an easy road to an education. Noth- 
ing was handed out to any of us on a silver platter. We 
had to get it the hard way, but today each one of us re- 
joices in the little part he has had in the upward struggle. 

UNSELFISH HELP 

It was not possible for each brother and sister to have 
some part financially in helping others with their school 
expenses. That can be understood easily because there 
was no further need in this direction after the younger 
sisters and brothers had completed their work. Then 



66 



some of the older ones had heavy responsibilities of their 
own and were unable to render assistance. But all in all, 
one of the most commendable things done by any mem- 
bers of the family was what was done by a few of the 
sisters in particular in helping younger brothers and sis- 
ters with expenses during school days. It would have 
been impossible for Papa to carry the full load for the 
entire time we were in school. He carried the load in the 
lean, early years before any of us got far enough along to 
give him some relief. From that time on he did what he 
could, but much of the weight of things fell to some of 
the older sisters who had completed their work and were 
teaching school. No word too praiseworthy can be said 
of those members of the family. This writer, along with 
some others, was on the receiving end of help, and through 
the years it has been his hope that some day he could tell 
the story of heroic and sacrificial sisters who nobly did 
their full part and more to help their younger brothers 
and sisters through their years of schoolwork. 

Rosa, the oldest child in the family, did what she could 
in this respect for a short time, but not too long after 
graduation she married Carlyle Powell, better known as 
'Sky" Powell, and the two went to Africa as missionaries. 
Berta, the second sister, graduated just at a time when 
the need for help seemed greatest, and not once did she 
flinch from making any needed sacrifice in helping to an- 
swer any call of need. In response to a questionnaire sent 
to the brothers and sisters to secure information for this 
story, Berta answered the question about the amount of 
help given to others while in school with the following 
statement: "All I made for eleven years of teaching except 
one hundred dollars each year for insurance and living 
expenses for myself." That statement is no exaggeration. 
She did just what she said, as many members of the family 
can testify. In answer to the question about the names 
of those helped, she wrote the names of Naomi, George, 
Manly, Zelma, Alma, and John — a total of six. I do 
not know what she did for others, but she sent this brother 



67 



68 



The picture on the opposite page was taken at Berta's home in 
Burgaw a few years after Papa's death. The group numbers 31 and is 
composed of Mama and 1 1 of the children with their families as 
follows: (1) Rosa, Carlyle, and Mary Hester Powell; (2) David, Irma, 
William, Olivia, and Harry; (3) Berta, Cleve, and Jeannette Scott; 
(4) Robert, Gussie, Ruth, and Dorothy; (5) Olivia and Frank Marsh- 
burn; (6) Naomi and David Chambers; (7) Zelma, Harper, Laura 
Catherine, Lewis, Ruth, and Alice Dawson; (8) Alma (married later); 
(y) John (married later); (10) Betsy and A. D. Wilder; and (1 1) Louise 
(married later). The three absent brothers with their families were 
(1) J. D. (single); (2) George, Ada Margaret, and Margaret Gale; and 
(3) Manly and Mildred. This picture is typical of the group that 
gathered at home at times on Sunday. 



a total of $1,350.00, and he is just one of the six she 
helped. Other things can be said about the sacrifices she 
made for the rest of us, but the following story will give 
a picture of some of the things she did. Along then we 
were having each summer a state-wide B. Y. P. U. conven- 
tion, and those meetings attracted large numbers of young 
people in particular. Some of us attended a few of the 
meetings. One summer Berta was anxious to join a group 
of friends who were going to that convention. She was 
very anxious to go, and she was a bit hesitant in explain- 
ing why she was not going. Finally when no other ex- 
planation would satisfy, she said, "I would like to go, 
but I just don't have a dress suitable to wear." Instead 
of buying a nice dress for herself, she had spent her money 
paying the school expenses of younger brothers and sisters. 

After Olivia and Namoi graduated, the need for help 
was not as great as it had been; but according to the need, 
they did their part in the same sacrificial spirit displayed 
by Berta. Together they gave some assistance to George, 
Zelma, Alma, John, Betsy, and Louise. For two years 
Olivia, Betsy, and Louise did light housekeeping at Camp- 
bell College. During those years Olivia taught at Camp- 
bell, and Betsy and Louise did their first two years of 
college work there. 



69 



These lines would be incomplete without adding an- 
other word from another viewpoint. It was necessary for 
some member of the family to be at home or near home at 
all times as a helper for Papa and Mama in the heavy 
load they were carrying. It was at this point that Robert 
and John made a contribution that exemplified the spirit 
of true sacrifice. The demand for the type of help they 
could give made it all but impossible for them to go as 
far in school as some others were privileged to go. For 
many winters, Robert was Papa's main help on the farm 
and in the making and selling of sausage. Then John, 
as the youngest son, was faced with the same condition 
that Papa faced as a young man when the responsibilities 
of the home fell upon him. For that reason we speak of 
these two brothers in sincere apprecaition for what they 
did, and along with them we make mention of Alma, who 
remained at home with Mama for a number of years after 
Papa's death. The service rendered by these three in the 
way just described was equally as important as the things 
done by other brothers and sisters. They helped to meet 
some vital needs of the family, and they did it unselfishly. 
King David remembered and commended those who 
stayed by the stuff along with those who went to battle. 
In that same spirit we make mention of these three at 
this point. 



AFTER YEARS OF STRUGGLE 

When commencement day came at Meredith College 
in Raleigh in June, 1934, a little over two years after 
Papa's death, a day of victory and of rejoicing had finally 
come. It was the occasion of the graduation of Betsy 
and Louise, the two youngest members of the family. It 
had been a long and hard struggle of twenty-six years since 
Rosa and David entered Dell School in the fall of 1908. 
During those years each of the fourteen children had 
spent at least one year or more in one of our Baptist 
Schools in North Carolina, and the total number of years 



70 



spent in these schools by the entire family had reached 
seventy-five. That figure includes the time spent in two 
of our seminaries by two of the sons. The graduation of 
Betsy and Louise brought to ten the number of sons and 
daughters who had completed college work. Those years 
spent in school away from home had cost the family ap- 
proximately $28,000.00. The best information or esti- 
mate we have is that Papa provided about half that 
amount. 

In addition to the years in our Baptist Schools, as have 
been described, David, the oldest son, was stationed at 
West Point for some time while he was in the United 
States Army. Then J. D., the second son who was named 
for Papa, attended the Macfeet-Bowen Business College 
at Columbia, S. C. He is the only member of the family 
who has not married. Both of these sons were in the Army 
during World War I. David spent a year in France and 
married while he was there. 

The credit for these years spent in school goes to Papa 
and Mama who had the vision to see the need of it, the 
faith to believe it could be done, the courage to attempt 
it, the spirit of sacrifice that led them to pay the price, and 
the determination to stick to it. When they began this 
seemingly impossible task, they took God at His word and 
put their lives in His hand, and through the years they 
lived, toiled, and planned in simple, child-like faith. They 
had no doubt about the outcome. They came to see their 
faith translated into assurance. That means that this ac- 
complishment of sending fourteen children to one or 
more of our Baptist schools for a total of seventy-five years 
at a cost of $28,000, with ten of the children graduating 
from college, when the father and mother did most of 
their farming on rented land, is nothing short of a miracle 
of grace made possible by two lives linked with God. This 
story gives at least some illustration of what might be done 
when two lives, blended in matrimony, completely and 



71 



unreservedly give themselves and all they have to the 
one thing above all other things that they believe is the 
will of the Master for them. 



At this point the picture turns, and rightly so. As the 
pages of this story have shown, Papa and Mama have 
rendered their service to God and to humanity in their 
lives of consecrated Christian service. Their record speaks 
for itself. No one questions it. But what of their chil- 
dren for whom they did so much? Let it be said with all 
sincerity that those of us who have been privileged to be 
their sons and daughters have a deep appreciation for the 
heritage we have and that we feel most keenly the re- 
sponsibility upon us. The torch given us has already 
been held aloft with consecrated hands that towered 
heavenward. We must live nobly and well or the torch 
handed us will be lowered in our hands. We have been 
blessed far beyond many others with a heritage more 
precious and more lasting than silver and gold. This 
privilege given us in no way elevates us above others. Let 
no one get that idea. Just the opposite is true. We must- 
be willing to take the little, the lowly, the hard, or the 
difficult place and in that place to lose ourselves in the 
service of the Master. Whether we preach, or teach, or 
plow corn, the task to which we give ourselves must not 
be for self but for the sake of the good of humanity. If 
we spend our lives seeking greatness in the eyes of the 
world, we prove ourselves unworthy. If we fail to be 
true servants of the Master, we prove ourselves unfaithful. 

It will be left to others to say how near we approach 
the high standard given us. We will go no further than 
to say that five of us, three daughters and two sons, are 
giving ourselves to full-time Christian service The three 
daughters are wives of ministers, one of whom is a mis- 
sionary. The two sons are ministers. Another son is a 
deacon. All of us are Christians and members of Baptist 



72 



Churches, and most everyone of us has been active in 
the work of the church. We trust that those who read 
these lines will be charitable in their judgment of us as 
they measure us by the lives of those who gave us birth. 

SIDE BY SIDE 

The story we have tried to give in these pages is simply 
the record of two noble lives who gave themselves each 
to the other and both to God and who for a period of 
forty-two years and a little more walked together in 
an effort to make their lives count for the most pos- 
sible for the glory of God. They lived in a day when 
divorce records were climbing and when evil forces were 
invading the sanctity of the home, but side by side they 
stood, making their home a haven of refuge for them- 
selves and for the children whom God had given them. 

We have no purpose in these closing words to over- 
draw the picture. Papa and Mama were human, and 
they were not free from faults. They did not always see 
things alike, and there were times when they did not 
fully understand each other. Each of them lived constantly 
under the strain of a heavy load. All of this adds up to 
show that they were not always at their best. None of us 
are. However, their lives were blended into a noble 
union, and they lived as a true husband and wife ought to 
live. 

In the toils and responsibilities of life, they stood to- 
gether as one person. Out on the farm Papa worked and 
toiled earning the bread for the family, and in the kitchen 
Mama worked just as hard baking the bread for her tired 
and hungry husband and for her children. Papa worked 
to provide, and Mama worked to conserve. They were 
in the business of life together. 

Then there were sacrifices that had to be made, and 
those sacrifices were real, but they were shared by both 
of them. In the early years, Mama did without a needed 
new dress more than once; and in the same spirit, Papa 



73 



wore his old hat or old clothes until the money was avail- 
able for each of them to do better. This same spirit of 
sacrifice and of sharing each with the other was an abid- 
ing part of their relationship throughout their years of 
living together. No one of us saw any spirit of selfish- 
ness in the life of either of them. That did not exist. 

In life's closing years, they walked on faithfully to- 
gether. They saw all of us go out from their home to 
institutions of learning, and when one of us went out to 
school, the return home usually was only for a brief span 
of time. They saw many of us united in marriage, and 
tney saw us taking our places in different walks of life. 
As is true of ail good parents, they delighted in our mar- 
riages and in our finding our places in life, and through it 
all they lingered together and shared together with a 
growing and a deepening devotion expressing itself in 
their love each for the other. For some several years with 
only one or two of us at home at the time, they lived on 
in the sunset of life as busy at work and as thoughtful of 
one another as would be true of any couple in any stage 
or age of life. 

On Monday night, February 8, 1932, at the age of 
seventy, Papa slipped away suddenly. Death came at a 
time when he and Mama were sitting together in the 
dining room after supper. His going was the first death 
in the family with the exception of the death of Fannie 
Ruth, an infant child, in 1900. For a little over sixteen 
years after his going, Mama remained with us. She filled 
those years with active work as long as she was able. She 
delighted in doing little things for each of us. Each 
summer she would fix strawberry preserves or something 
of that nature in small jars, and when we went to visit 
her, she had a jar of preserves to give to us. She was 
still living, not for herself, but for her children who were 
all grown and who were far more able to care for them- 
selves than was true of her. To each of us to the very 



74 



end, she was Mama, and wherever she was was the place 
of the center of our interest. After four years of sickness 
and suffering, she, too, slipped away on Wednesday, May 
26, 1948, at the age of seventy-six. Her going from us 
gave her an opportunity to be reunited with Papa in 
the realm beyond the reach and the power of death. After 
her going from us, the fourteen of us, surrounded by a 
host of realtives and friends, saw her body laid to rest by 
the side of Papa's in the small cemetery by the side of the 
lane at the home place. 

Side by side two lovers stood, 

Before an altar great and good; 

They clasped a hand; they made a vow, 

That proved for them a strength and tower. 

Side by side two workers toiled, 
Earning their bread from nature's soil; 
With sweat on hand, on face, on brow, 
They toiled together each day and hour. 

Side by side two travelers walked, 

With pace in step, in plan, in talk; 

The Book, their guide; the Lord; their strength; 

No load so heavy to make them shrink. 

Side by side their course did run, 
Till nature did bring the setting sun; 
The battle fought, the victory won, 
A gentle voice has said, "Well done." 

Side by side two bodies lie, 
Waiting a summons from the sky; 
As one, at ease, at sleep in peace, 
They wait and rest in sweet release. 

— Original 



75 



WEDDINGS AND FAMILIES OF 
THE CHILDREN 

Jefferson Davis Hocutt and Hester Catherine Mur- 
ray were married at Rocky Point, North Carolina, on 
December 21, 1890, by Thomas J. Armstrong. We give 
below information about the marriages and tamilies of 
ineir children. 

Rosa Beatrice was born September 27, 1891. She 
married Rev. J. Carlyle "Sky" Powell on July 24, 1919. 
They have one daughter, Mary Hester. 

David William was born January 24, 1893. He 
married irma Victoria Louise Deschamps in Grand- 
champ, France, on March 22, 1919. Their children are 
William, Olivia, and Harry. 

Berta Mabel was born July 8, 1894. She married 
J. Cleve Scott on April 28, 1927. They have one daugh- 
ter, Jeannette. 

Jefferson Davis, Jr., was born September 4, 1895. He 
has not married. 

Robert LeRoy was born February 12, 1897. He mar- 
ried Gussie Catherine Batscn on January 5, 1922. Their 
children ere Ruth and Dorothy. 

Olivia Blanche was born December 16, 1898. She 
married Rev. Frank Marshburn on April 7, 1934. They 
have no children. 

Fannie Ruth was born April 23, 1900. She died No- 
vember 27, 1900. 

Naomi Hull was born November 10, 1901. She mar- 
ried David Thomas Chambers on June 7, 1934. They 
have no children. 

George Lemuel was born April 27, 1903. He mar- 
ried Ada Margaret Bowden on September 1, 1936. They 
have one daughter, Margaret Gale. 

Hilliard Manly was born March 9, 1905. He mar- 
ried Mildred Mae Stancil on December 19, 1930, and 
she died February 25.. 1943. He married Marie Frances 
Sayles on June 3., 1945. Their children are Kathryn 
Mae, Cynthia Ann, and Broadus. 

Zelma Ruth was born July 22, 1906. She married 
Rev. Lewis Harper Dawson on June 19, 1929. Their 
children are Laura Catherine, Lewis, Ruth, and Alice. 

Alma Lucy was born March 16, 1908. She mar- 
ried Fulton Blanchard on November 6, 1942. They have 
one daughter, Mary Emma. 

John Carlton was born February 17, 1910. He mar- 
ried Katie Williams on June 21, 1944. They have one 
daughter, Catherine Joan. 

Catherine Pearl "Betsv" was born December 15, 
1911. She married A. D. Wilder on December 21, 1940. 
They have one son, "Al", Jr. 

Louise was born September 4, 1913. She married 
Lambert E. Turner on June 27, 1942. They have no 
children. 

76 



owder's Printing Press — Alexander, N. C.